DOJ Disrupts COVID-19 Web Scams

The Department of Justice said it has "disrupted" hundreds of COVID-19 scams. 

As of April 21, DOJ said, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center had checked out more than 3,600 complaints about such alleged scams, including sites that advertised fake vaccines and cures and bogus charities. 

Related: Hill Pushes DOJ to Go After COVID-19 Roboscammers

Among the specific sites it cited were:  

1. "An illicit website pretending to solicit and collect donations to the American Red Cross for COVID-19 relief efforts. 

2. "Fraudulent websites that spoofed government programs and organizations to trick American citizens into entering personally identifiable information, including banking details. 

3. "Websites of legitimate companies and services that were used to facilitate the distribution or control of malicious software." 

DOJ has referred legitimate complaints to the companies managing or hosting the domains, many of which it said have taken down those domains. 

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“The department will continue to collaborate with our law enforcement and private sector partners to combat online COVID-19 related crime,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in a statement. “We commend the responsible internet companies that are taking swift action to prevent their resources from being used to exploit this pandemic.” 

The FBI offered up some tips for avoiding online COVID-19 scams, including 1) paying close attention to the addresses offering information on COVID-19 services or products since they can often differ only slightly from the real one, for example, or instead of, and 2) ignore all offers of a vaccine, cure or treatment. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.