The US Department of Justice (DoJ) accuses 474 people of involvement in COVID-19-related fraud and other criminal activities.
Cybercriminals are increasingly taking advantage of the global health crisis to increase their profits. So far we have seen several malicious activities in which COVID-19 was used as a "theme" - by fake "therapists" and suppliers of protective equipment promoting their products on Internet, up to phishing email campaigns and so-called appointment for vaccination. In fact now, dubious sellers even go so far as to sell fake vaccines and vaccination proofs at Dark web.
Police authorities around the world are trying to combat such activities. At the same time, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations are constantly publishing advice on fraud and threats.
In a statement released last week, the DoJ said 474 people had been publicly charged so far. "For criminal offenses based on programs related to the COVID-19 pandemic". In addition, the US agency pointed out that the alleged criminals are responsible for the attempt to extort at least 569 million dollars fraudulently, both from the citizens and from the US government itself.
Police investigations have uncovered a variety of scams, including "operations" aimed at US Wage Protection Program (PPP)The Disaster Loan (EIDL) Loan Program and Unemployment Benefit System (UI) - These are programs designed to help US businesses and citizens during the pandemic. In total, 120 people have been charged with PPE (protective equipment fraud).
One of the latest DoJ convictions related to COVID-19 focused on Dinesh Sah, a Coppell resident in Texas. The 55-year-old pleaded guilty last week to $ 24,8 million in fraudulent PPP loans and money laundering.
As for EIDL, which is designed to provide SMB loans, criminals have applied for help from non-existent, new and shell companies.
UI fraud is also very common, with at least 140 people reported to have done so.
Brian Boynton, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the DoJ Political Directorate, stated the following: "We will not allow American citizens or the critical care programs that have been set up to help them suffer from those seeking to benefit from this national emergency. "We are proud to work with the police to identify criminals and safeguard taxpayers' money.".
Source of information: zdnet.com