WHEELING, W.Va. – In a news release issued Friday, U.S. Attorney Bill Powell is asking residents to be vigilant and aware to protect themselves against scammers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and warning those who are considering taking advantage of the situation.
“To prey on the fears and anxieties of others during this difficult time is incomprehensible and despicable. Those who do so will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I’m asking all residents to not be swayed by these fraudsters and report anything suspicious,” said Powell.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office will be vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting any wrongdoing related to the crisis, the news release said. As a proactive measure U.S. Attorney Powell has appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Cogar as the district’s COVID-19 Coordinator. Cogar is tasked with serving as legal counsel on all COVID-19 litigation and matters, as well as conduct community outreach and awareness activities related to COVID-19, Powell said.
As more reports are being made of individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud, reports of phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reports of malware being inserted onto mobile apps designed to track the spread of the virus, Powell urged residents to protect themselves.
To report any suspicious activity regarding the COVID-19 virus, residents are asked to call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.