The U.S. Attorney in Tampa announced last week the establishment of a partnership with state and local authorities to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of engaging in fraud related to the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida is one of several offices around the country establishing such teams, as the Department of Justice says it has already received many credible reports of all manner of scams and fraudulent activity in relation to the pandemic.
Though much of the office’s activity has been shuttered due to recent events, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez says that investigations and prosecutions shall continue. Her office will make fraudulent activity surrounding COVID-19 a priority for the foreseeable future as well.
Among the crimes Federal attorneys will concentrate upon are scams involving the sale of fake COVID-19 testing kits, unproven cures or vaccines, and ineffective treatments for the disease. They also intend to investigate reports of scammers calling individuals and posing to be healthcare providers demanding payment for the treatment of relatives.
U.S. Attorneys nationwide will also investigate “phishing scams” involving emails or phone calls by individuals posing as national or global health authorities asking for individual and/or financial information about victims. Attorneys will also prosecute individuals alleged to have created harmful software, including malware and smartphone apps, that is meant to harvest individual and financial information from unwitting individuals as well.
Fraudulent investment scams will also come under particular scrutiny by the office, as it says that many scammers are likely to create fake investment opportunities related to COVID-19, including the promotion and sale of microcap stocks the scammers say will rise tremendously in value upon marketing non-existent treatments or cures for COVID-19.
The Law Offices of Bjorn Brunvand have been representing people charged with capital murder, felony drug charges, drunk driving, government fraud, and white-collar crimes for over a quarter century. Contact our office today to discuss your Tampa Bay-area state or federal charges.