Attorney General Directs Department of Justice to Crack Down on Coronavirus Scammers, Cyber Criminals

In a memo to attorney’s offices across the country, William Barr said that federal law enforcement should prioritize investigating and prosecuting crimes related to the pandemic.

Under the direction of Attorney General William Barr, federal attorney’s offices will focus on prosecuting scammers seeking to profit from growing panic over the coronavirus pandemic.

Barr sent a memo to all U.S. attorneys on Monday that stated the Department of Justice’s mission of “detecting, investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing” related to the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to laying out steps the department is taking to keep federal law enforcement officers, attorneys and judges safe, Barr instructed attorneys to go after cybercriminals trying to take advantage of unsuspecting Americans.

In the memo obtained by CyberScoop, Barr pointed to reports of businesses selling fake coronavirus cures online, phishing campaigns from scammers pretending to be the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization, and criminals inserting malware on mobile apps claiming to track the spread of COVID-19.

“The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated,” Barr wrote. “Every U.S. Attorney’s Office is thus hereby directed to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of all criminal conduct related to the current pandemic.”

Read More: High Number of Recently Created Coronavirus Websites Linked to Scamming Operations

Attorneys were advised to work closely with local and state authorities to ensure that federal law enforcement is informed about “misconduct as quickly as possible” and that enforcement tools are available to punish those crimes.

The memo was sent shortly after cybersecurity researchers and journalists reported on apps pretending to offer information on the virus that actually just infected users’ phones with malware. One Android app even downloaded ransomware to the user’s phone, only unlocking the device if the owner sent $100 in Bitcoin within 48 hours, according to Forbes.

Americans are advised to not click on links from emails or users they do not recognize, and only download apps from official app stores, which have likely been vetted by Apple or Google. Both companies have said they have cracked down on malicious apps in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic sprouted scams and cybercrime.

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

Featured

  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Making Safety and Security Intrinsic to School Design

    Public anxieties about school safety are escalating across the country. According to a 2023 Gallup report, 44% of parents fear for their child’s physical safety at school, a 10 percentage-point increase since 2019. Unfortunately, these fears are likely to increase if the incidence of school tragedies continues to mount. As a result, school leaders are now charged with two non-negotiable responsibilities. The first, as always, is to ensure kids have what they need to learn, grow, and thrive. Sadly, their second responsibility is to keep the children in their care safe from threats and physical danger. Read Now

  • The Power of a Layered Approach to Safety

    In a perfect world, every school would have an unlimited budget to help secure their schools. In reality, schools must prioritize what budget they have while navigating the complexities surrounding school security and lockdown. Read Now

  • How a Security System Can Enhance Arena Safety and the Fan Experience

    Ensuring guests have both a memorable experience and a safe one is no small feat for your physical security team. Stadiums, ballparks, arenas, and other large event venues are increasingly leveraging new technologies to transform the fan experience and maintain a high level of security. The goal is to preserve the integrity and excitement of the event while enhancing security and remaining “behind the scenes.” Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

Webinars

New Products

  • EasyGate SPT and SPD

    EasyGate SPT SPD

    Security solutions do not have to be ordinary, let alone unattractive. Having renewed their best-selling speed gates, Cominfo has once again demonstrated their Art of Security philosophy in practice — and confirmed their position as an industry-leading manufacturers of premium speed gates and turnstiles. 3

  • Connect ONE’s powerful cloud-hosted management platform provides the means to tailor lockdowns and emergency mass notifications throughout a facility – while simultaneously alerting occupants to hazards or next steps, like evacuation.

    Connect ONE®

    Connect ONE’s powerful cloud-hosted management platform provides the means to tailor lockdowns and emergency mass notifications throughout a facility – while simultaneously alerting occupants to hazards or next steps, like evacuation. 3

  • PE80 Series

    PE80 Series by SARGENT / ED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin

    ASSA ABLOY, a global leader in access solutions, has announced the launch of two next generation exit devices from long-standing leaders in the premium exit device market: the PE80 Series by SARGENT and the PED4000/PED5000 Series by Corbin Russwin. These new exit devices boast industry-first features that are specifically designed to provide enhanced safety, security and convenience, setting new standards for exit solutions. The SARGENT PE80 and Corbin Russwin PED4000/PED5000 Series exit devices are engineered to meet the ever-evolving needs of modern buildings. Featuring the high strength, security and durability that ASSA ABLOY is known for, the new exit devices deliver several innovative, industry-first features in addition to elegant design finishes for every opening. 3