Jackson, Miss. – U.S. Attorneys Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi and Chad Lamar of the Northern District of Mississippi announced today their appointment of federal prosecutors to lead the fight against fraud in the state of Mississippi relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys nationwide to remain vigilant in detecting, investigating and prosecuting criminal activity related to the crisis. “The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated,” Attorney General Barr said.
“In this time of crisis, we are redoubling our efforts to protect Mississippians against fraudsters, and we will bring to justice those who prey upon our fellow citizens in this time of need. Criminals using this pandemic to swindle and defraud others will be met with swift and certain justice,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
“I can think of nothing as reprehensible at this critical juncture than to employ this crisis to fraudulently prey upon one’s fellow citizens. Violators will be dealt with severely,” said U.S. Attorney Lamar.
As part of this strategy, U.S. Attorneys Hurst and Lamar have appointed Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lynn Murray of Jackson and Clay Dabbs of Oxford to serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinators for the Southern and Northern Districts of Mississippi, respectively. Together, working with their federal, state and local law enforcement, these federal prosecutors will coordinate and lead investigations and prosecutions of those who attempt to take advantage of people during this time of crisis.
As our nation continues to face the spread of COVID-19, the critical mission of the U.S. Department of Justice must and will continue as we work together to safeguard our justice system and thus the safety and security of the citizens of Mississippi. While there have been reports of individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud, reports of phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reports of malware being inserted onto mobile apps designed to track the spread of the virus, our offices stand vigilant with our law enforcement to bring these criminals to justice.
In addition the U.S. Attorney’s Offices’ websites now contain a front page button where visitors can quickly report fraud to the office and/or to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mississippians who believe they may have been the target or victim of a virus-related fraud scheme should visit www.justice.gov/SDMS and www.justice.gov/NDMS and provide detailed information about their experience.