'Operation Stolen Promise' targets COVID-19 fraud scams
Individuals and organizations around the globe are using COVID-19 for illegal financial gain.
There are financial fraud scams, counterfeit test kits, internet scams and the list goes on. The Department of Homeland Security Investigations has created a national response to these criminal actions with a campaign called “Operation Stolen Promise”. Jere Miles, a special agent with HSI’s New Orleans field office, says that these scams started with things like PPE (personal protective equipment).
"High demand, short supply so you know, obviously, we saw a series of things happening. People advertising something for sale that they didn't have, taking payment for it and then just kind of disappearing,” Miles said.
And now, he says it’s like we’re seeing an evolution of COVID-19 related fraud.
"People coming to the citizens and soliciting them and saying 'Hey look, we can help you with this government program, or we can help you with that government program. And, you know, all we need is some money from you.' It's standard fraud scheme, they're just throwing COVID-19 over the top of it,” said Miles.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see things like this during times of crisis.
“Operation Stolen Promise” targets these COVID-19 fraud scams that are, in most cases, aimed at those who are especially vulnerable during this time. HSI is working closely with local law enforcement and other partners to investigate and a stop to these fraud scams. They’ve recently launched a
that’s dedicated to the campaign. The page provides information about COVID-19 fraud scams, who to contact about these fraud scams and recent successes with the campaign.
Miles advises the public to do what they can to avoid being a victim of a COVID-19 scam. One of those things being, trusting your suspicions because if it seems too good to be true…then it probably is.
"If you have those suspicions or those concerns, obviously, what we're recommending everybody to do is to reach out to their local law enforcement community and let them know," Miles said.