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Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Urges Reporting of COVID-19 Health Fraud

April 30, 2020

We have been writing and speaking on the danger that scammers will try to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have already seen evidence of pandemic related fraud.  For example, fundraising for illegitimate charities, theft of stimulus checks, and promotions of bogus cures. Now the Massachusetts United States Attorney is warning about Covid-19 Health Fraud.

The Massachusetts United States Attorney’s Office Is Prioritizing Prosecution of Covid-19 Health Care Fraud

Recently, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling informed health care providers that his office is prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of fraud related to the pandemic. Certainly, a hallmark of high-profile disasters is the ensuing wave of fraud. As a result, the Massachusetts United States Attorney’s office is focusing on those criminals “engaged in hoarding and/or price-gouging with regard to critical medical supplies.”

Price-gouging fraud is particularly insidious given the widespread lack of personal protective equipment and testing. Indeed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has designated 15 categories of medical supplies as “scarce,” triggering additional enforcement remedies.

As United States Attorney Lelling explains, price-gouging is “not only morally repugnant” but also “will inhibit hospitals, physicians, other health care professionals, and government agencies from fully implementing measures designed to save lives and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.”

Prosecutors Call for Whistleblowers to Report Fraud to the Government

U.S. Attorney Lelling asked hospitals and others in the health care industry to report companies suspected of hoarding or price-gouging. This includes the 15 categories of health and medical supplies designated as scarce.

The Department of Justice has likewise asked whistleblowers to be on the lookout for:    

  • Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud. 
  • Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received. 
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.   
  • Doctors using patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that same information to bill for other tests and procedures.   

Our office specializes in helping whistleblowers of all types report fraud to the government. Several government programs exist to protect and reward whistleblowers who take a stand to stop criminals from profiting from this crisis.

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