People who want to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a focus for their fraudulent activities might want to think twice. The DoJ has made a firm commitment to put any cases touching on COVID-19 front and center of their current investigation efforts.
This includes prioritizing:
- Cases where individuals are selling fake cures and faulty health products, especially over the Internet.
- Phishing cases where the phisher impersonates the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control. Phishers often do this to gain access to the mark’s personal information.
- Cases where hackers get you to click on a link, to, for example, a COVID-related news story, only to install malware on your device when you do it.
- Cybercrimes where the criminal has attached malware to apps promising to track the spread of the virus.
- Holding businesses accountable under antitrust laws for price gouging or otherwise taking advantage of the outbreak.
Despite widespread efforts by federal courts to limit cases to the most pressing so as to cut down on crowding and slow the spread of the virus you can expect that the DoJ will respond swiftly if you are accused of any of these crimes.
This also isn’t to say that you should rest on your laurels if you think you’re the target of other kinds of federal investigations.
It’s merely to point out that the DoJ has set its priorities.
This is all at the behest of Attorney General William Bar. In his memo to US attorneys, Barr writes:
“The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic, and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated. It is essential that the Department of Justice remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.”
Major tech platforms like Facebook and Google say they are working with the government to combat fraud and misinformation. Cybercriminals are already taking heavy advantage of the pandemic. Certain domains have already been called out as dangerous.
This may not be the best time to even put together a seemingly-innocent website revolving around COVID-19. While your own efforts may be legal you could become the subject of unwanted attention. Your site could also be a source of unnecessary “noise” in an era where clear, truthful, and 100% accurate information could be the key to saving lives.
Ecommerce is booming, so maybe just set up an online store instead…one that doesn’t sell virus-related products and services.
Are you being accused of a COVID-related federal crime? Reach out to a federal criminal defense attorney with years of experience going up against the US Government. Contact Koch Law to set up a consultation today.