According to the United States Attorney for the District of Arizona, there is rampant fraud related to the COVID-19 crisis. We’re not sure how many ongoing investigations there are at this point, but the U.S. Attorney, Michael Bailey, has appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney to oversee matters related to the virus and any incoming reports of fraudulent activity.
What is Fraud?
Under Arizona law, fraud is a broad subject. Specific laws target credit card fraud, business fraud, commercial fraud, organized crime fraud, and others. The essence of these offenses involves obtaining a benefit through the use of a false statement or representation.
Federal law, specifically U.S.C. § 1001, likewise generally prohibits materially false statements, and you can be prosecuted under federal law provided the court has jurisdiction to hear your case, that is, cases in which specific federal laws may be violated, including bank transactions, HUD transactions, transactions across state lines, wire fraud, and more.
Examples of COVID-19 Fraud
There are many possible ways to commit fraud, and the vulnerability of people to such scams appears to increase dramatically with heightened concern about an overriding medical issue such as the coronavirus. Here are some of the ways in which people could find themselves being defrauded, according to the Office of the United States Attorney:
- Computer App Scams. You are offered an app that says it will track the spread of the virus. In fact, it’s malware designed to obtain your personal information.
- Charity Scams. Some people are asking for donations to help those who may be affected by COVID-19. These may or may not be legitimate.
- Testing Scams. With the concern over COVID-19 testing, some vendors are selling what turn out to be fake testing kits. These may be sold through online ads or even door-to-door.
- Medical Provider Scams. Individuals have reported that they have been contacted by email and by phone by persons who falsely say they are doctors or represent hospitals who have treated a relative for the virus, and who demand payment for those services.
- Treatment Scams. Some people are advertising online trying to sell supposed cures for the virus.
These are just some of the scams being targeted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Others include investment scams, phishing scams, and the list goes on. In each case, false statements are made the obtain money or confidential information from the person targeted.
Law Offices of David A. Black
40 North Central Avenue #1850
Phoenix, AZ 85004