Homeland launches COVID-19 operation

Prohibited test, treatment kits among cases tied to fraud

In an effort to suss out fraud during the COVID-19 outbreak, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations announced a new operation Wednesday, according to a news release.

“Operation Stolen Promise” is intended to combat any COVID-19 related fraud and other criminal activity through the cooperation of several federal departments and agencies, along with businesses and industry representatives.

“HSI will bring every asset to bear against anyone targeting consumers with financial schemes or fraudulent products that jeopardize the health and safety of Americans,” HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Alysa D. Erichs said in the release.

“This unified effort brings a whole-of-government approach to monitor, investigate and arrest those responsible for endangering the public with criminal acts of fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The release states that as of Tuesday, agents across the country have investigated nearly 150 cases related to fraud and COVID-19; including cases involving shipments of mislabeled, fraudulent, or unauthorized and prohibited COVID-19 test kits, treatment kits, homeopathic remedies and purported anti-viral products, and personal protective equipment.

“Operation Stolen Promise will combine HSI’s expertise in global trade investigations, financial fraud and cyber investigations with robust private and public partnerships to disrupt and dismantle this criminal activity and strengthen global supply-chain security,” the document stated.

Suspected illicit criminal activity or fraudulent schemes related to COVID-19 can be reported via email at Covid19Fraud@dhs.gov.