COVID-19 News: Coronavirus Fraud Spikes, Army Seeks Care Facilities, Feds Charge Scammer

Here’s an overview of some of the latest COVID-19 coronavirus developments on the government and tech fronts:

FTC Sees Surge in Coronavirus-Related Fraud

According to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data, the number of coronavirus-related fraud cases reported to the agency by consumers doubled in the last week. In total, consumers have reported losing $4.77 million on 7,800 cases of fraud mentioning the coronavirus. Popular vectors included travel-related expenses, online shopping reports, and government imposter scams.

Federal Prosecutors Charge Man for Fraudulent COVID-19 Testing

Federal prosecutors are charging a Georgia man, Erika Santos, for his alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud Federally funded and private healthcare benefit programs by submitting fraudulent COVID-19 testing and genetic cancer screening claims. Santos has been charged with one count of conspiring to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute and one count of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud. “As the complaint alleges, he offered kickbacks in exchange for medically unnecessary tests – including potentially hard-to-obtain COVID-19 tests – thus preying on people’s fear in order to defraud the government and make money for himself,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.

Army Seeking Alternative Care Facilities for Pandemic Response

The Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking alternative medical care facilities to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response to the coronavirus outbreak. “We are here to solve our nation’s greatest engineering challenges. We are committed to serving the citizens of our three states and doing what we can to get through this crisis,” Col. Scott Preston, Tulsa District commander, said. The Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with $1.1 billion of FEMA mission assignments related to the pandemic.

CrowdStrike Warns of Two COVID-19 Scams

CrowdStrike Intelligence is warning the public of two new COVID-19 coronavirus scams. The cybersecurity tech company identified a Microsoft Office document presenting as official Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs correspondence related to a COVID-19 press release from the People’s Republic of China, and possibly associated with KARMA PANDA. Additionally, a phishing message impersonating a U.S. government agency with the subject line “COVID-19 – nCoV – Special Update – WHO” contains a document that, if clicked, can enable a remote access tool on the victim’s computer.

Katie Malone
About Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.

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