As the coronavirus pandemic continues, national and local law enforcement agencies are reminding citizens to continue to be vigilant against potential fraud activity.
ICE Homeland Security Investigations has launched Operation Stolen Promise to protect citizens against possible COVID-19 fraud and criminal activities tied to the global pandemic.
Douglasville Police Maj. J.R. Davidson said that there hasn’t been any COVID-19 fraud reports within the city limits so far.
“As this goes on, the potential of fraud will increase,” Davidson said. “Criminals always try to find new ways. People need to be careful in donating to charity or applying for help.”
Homeland Security Investigations has launched the S.T.O.P. COVID-19 Fraud campaign to provide facts, tips and how to spot red flags for potential pandemic related crime.
Douglasville Police posted the campaign to its Facebook page.
According to HSI, special agents have opened nationwide investigations and made several arrests as it relates to fraudulent activity around the pandemic.
“HSI is also working closely with law enforcement and private sector partners to identify and investigate financial fraud schemes. While scammers are attempting to profit from the pandemic through fraudulent fundraising for fake charities, various medical scams and online sales of counterfeit medicines and medical supplies, HSI is working diligently to stop them. In the cyber realm, HSI continues to deploy its robust capabilities and expertise to target and take down online platforms and dark web sites that enable the sale and distribution of illicit materials related to COVID-19,” HSI wrote in a release.
The Better Business Bureau stated in a release that scams have started to pop up as criminal impersonate government agencies looking to scam individuals surrounding COVID-19 related issues.
About 44% of Americans over the age of 18 has been exposed to these types of scams, according to an AARP survey.
The Federal Trade Commission says that people can general lose a couple hundred dollars in scams with the median amount around $960. The FTC says that the average person over 60 can be scammed out of $2,700.
“Government impersonators can create a sense of urgent fear, telling you to send money right away or provide your social security number to avoid arrest or some other trouble,” according to a FTC news release.
As children transition into online learning in the first part of the school year, Davidson said parents should regularly monitor their activity online.
“You may have some kids that may never have been on a computer,” Davidson said. “Parents need to be extra vigilant. As the number of kids online increase, you have to be careful.”