U.S. Attorney’s Office Continues Its Critical Public Safety Functions and Urges Public to Report Suspected COVID-19 Fraud

The United States Attorney’s Office continues to fulfill its critical mission of protecting public safety during the current health emergency thanks to the tireless efforts of federal prosecutors and the brave work of our law enforcement partners.

“Our primary goal is to maintain safety and security across the seven counties we serve,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Even as we come together as a nation to deal with the threat of COVID-19, there are individuals among us and across the globe who are attempting to use this crisis as an opportunity to exploit our fears and take advantage of our generosity.”

Members of the public are urged to report suspected fraud schemes related to the coronavirus and COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or sending complaints to the NCDF e-mail address, disaster@leo.gov.

The NCDF enters complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all Justice Department prosecutors and law enforcement components (such as the FBI) to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes. The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state attorneys general and local authorities.

U.S. Attorney Hanna said his office is following the direction of U.S. Attorney General William Barr to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus fraud schemes, including the online sale of bogus COVID-19 cures, the solicitation of donations for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations, and the distribution of ransomware from malicious websites and apps that promise to share coronavirus-related information.

United States Attorney Hanna has appointed Assistant United States Attorney Joseph O. Johns to be the office’s Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator. AUSA Johns will serve as the legal counsel in the Central District of California on matters relating to the coronavirus, direct the prosecution of coronavirus-related crimes, and conduct outreach and awareness activities. AUSA Johns is the longtime chief of the office’s Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section.

To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California serves approximately 20 million residents in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.


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