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Illustration by Security Management

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations Launches Site Outlining Pandemic-Related Fraud Strategy

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit launched a web page in support of its “Operation Stolen Promise” campaign dedicated to fighting COVID-19-related fraud schemes.

According to the site, “the initiative combines HSI’s expertise in global trade investigations, financial fraud, and cyber investigations with robust private and public partnerships to disrupt and dismantle this criminal activity and strengthen global supply-chain security.”

The site outlines HSI’s strategic approach, which has the following components: partnership, investigation, disruption, and education. It also presents statistics to date, such as:

  • 9 criminal arrests
  • $3.2 million illicit proceeds seized
  • 85 disruptions of illicit activity
  • 374 leads delivered to domestic and international offices
  • 419 seizures of contraband including prohibited test kits and pharmaceuticals and counterfeit PPE

Materials from the education component of Operation Stolen Promise, provide tips to companies, individuals, localities, and institutions on potential red flags to watch for on everything from financial offers to shopping for masks or other PPE.

HSI asks people to report suspected fraud schemes by sending an email to [email protected].

Since COVID-19 began spreading around the globe, the media has reported on numerous fraud schemes. The following is just a smattering from the last few days.

"Justice Department Warns of SBA Loan Fraud" – Fox Business

"A California Pair Have Been Arrested and Charged with Fraud Over a Multimillion-Dollar Face Mask and Respirator Deal" – BuzzFeed

"Coronavirus Payments to Poor Are Vulnerable to Fraud" – NPR

"An Uptick in Fraud Is Complicating Airline Refunds for Canceled Flights" – Skift

"Businesses Report Unemployment Fraud Schemes" – KFOR (Oklahoma City)

"Coronavirus ‘Fraud Domain’ Seized after Suspect Tried Selling It for Bitcoin, Feds Say" – Fox News

"Crisis-Led Rise in Power Theft, Fraud, to Cost Brazilian Firms Billions" – Bnamericas

"Coronavirus Fuels Explosive Growth in Telehealth—And Concern About Fraud" – Kaiser Health News

"Bogus Vaccines. Fake Testing Sites. Virus Frauds Are Flourishing"New York Times