Scott W. Brady, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the formation of a joint federal and state Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force to investigate and prosecute coronavirus-related fraud.
The Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force will bring together federal and state investigative agencies and prosecutors to receive public information on myriad scams being perpetrated on-line and in-person by scammers seeking to exploit the evolving coronavirus public health crisis. The Task Force will marshal the collective investigative power of our federal and state law enforcement agencies by forming joint investigative teams, and prosecutors from both offices will be cross-designated to work on such investigations together.
The Task Force will be led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office COVID19 Fraud Coordinator and an Executive Deputy Attorney General of Pennsylvania. Task Force members include representatives from the United States Attorney’s Office, the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Homeland Security Investigations, Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Education – Office of Inspector General and the Pennsylvania State Police.
“Attorney General Shapiro and I have spoken on a regular basis during this crisis,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “In coordinating the response of federal and state law enforcement to COVID19 fraud, we felt it was critical that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s form a joint COVID19 Fraud Task Force. Our goal is simple: we seek to ensure there is no gap between the shields of federal and state law enforcement in protecting the public from fraudsters – whether here in Pennsylvania or around the globe – who would exploit this crisis in order to harm the citizens of western Pennsylvania. Bad guys should know we are open for business. We will find you and we will stop you.”
“I’m grateful for the partnership between the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office during these challenging times,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “People across Pennsylvania are concerned about their health and their economic futures, and it is despicable that retailers, distributors, and wholesalers are taking advantage of people. The joint COVID19 Task Force allows my Office, and our federal partners, to quickly combat fraudsters who want to exploit Pennsylvanians. This is a time to band together—not to give into unlawful greed.”
The goal of the Task Force is to protect the citizens of western Pennsylvania from fraudsters who seek to take advantage of the fear and confusion many feel surrounding the coronavirus. Fraudsters are targeting vulnerable members of our community, including our seniors, by setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information. The emails and posts may be promoting awareness and prevention tips, and fake information about cases in your neighborhood. They also may be asking you to donate to victims, offering advice on unproven treatments, or contain malicious email attachments.