The COVID-19 outbreak has created a countless number of problems for the United States. As unemployment rates rise to dangerous levels and people worry over losing loved ones, there is an aspect of this situation that has slipped under the radar: Fraud.
Amid the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, corrupt organizations and bad actors are using the virus to prey upon unsuspecting Americans. The Department of Homeland Security has recently launched Operation Stolen Promise to counteract the threats to American society posed by malicious entities. Their agency notes the following on their website: “These illegal efforts not only compromise legitimate trade and financial systems, but threaten the integrity of the U.S. border, and endanger the safety and security of the American public.”
Collaboration between Immigration and Customer’s Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations have been identifying and apprehending perpetrators who violate the laws of the United States to further COVID-19-related criminal activity. There have been several different types of fraud scams being perpetrated. These include cons relating to financial relief, COVID-19 stimulus checks, and traditional boiler room organizations. These organizations are importing counterfeit and prohibited pharmaceuticals and test kits preying on Americans searching for effective treatments and testing.
The Department of Homeland Security has already initiated a multi-pronged strategic action designed to curb the rise of illicit activities. For those who take advantage of the virus, the DHS has already seized millions of dollars in illicit proceeds; made multiple arrests; and shut down thousands of fraudulent websites. They have also coordinated with U.S Customs and Border Protection to seize shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, unauthorized or prohibited COVID-19 test kits, treatment kits, homeopathic remedies, and purported anti-viral products and personal protective equipment.
In Los Angeles, a British national was named in a federal complaint alleging that he smuggled mislabeled drugs that were designed to treat COVID-19 patients. Another case in Georgia, special agents detained a man who was accused of importing and selling unregistered pesticides, then mailing articles claiming that these illegal chemicals would protect people from COVID-19. Nine criminal arrests and 91 disruptions of unlawful activity have been the result of this operation so far.
Others are using this situation to turn a profit by illegal means, the Left media being one of them. Though fraud is not at the front of people’s minds, media platforms such as CNN, MSNBC, and ABC news are using the virus for political purposes. It is in these moments that their criminal element can flourish with outrageous headlines and pointing the finger at Trump for the pandemic that they stay under the radar. Law enforcement seems to be up to the task in stopping these bad actors and internet scams, but when will they begin to investigate the fraud of fake news all around us?