ROANOKE, Va. – The Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force announced today that they are preparing for potential criminal activity, including theft and fraud, from the Economic Impact Payment checks or debit cards soon to be hand-delivered by the U.S. Postal Service.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will be extra vigilant as Economic Impact Payments are mailed to approximately 80 million Americans across the country,” said Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “We are prepared to protect our employees, our customers, and the U.S. Mail from criminals who are looking to take advantage of our nation during the Coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to work in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our partners in the COVID-19 Task Force to investigate anyone who seeks to take advantage of consumers during these unprecedented times, and bring them to justice.”
In response to the significant economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Government passed a $2 trillion stimulus package which includes providing Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) to millions of Americans. These EIPs will be distributed in two ways: direct deposit into recipient’s bank accounts and Treasury checks or debit cards mailed by the U.S. Treasury. The distribution of electronic direct deposits has already started. The mailings through the U.S. Postal Service of Treasury checks are expected to begin April 20.
“Fraudsters frequently prey upon vulnerable individuals during difficult times,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are working closely with our law enforcement partners like the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to guard against fraudulent pandemic profiteers, as well as to ensure the rule of law and public safety is not eroded during this critical time. For anyone victimized by a COVID-19 scam, our office remains steadfastly committed to pursuing justice on your behalf.”
The U.S. Postal Service anticipates delivering over 80 million EIPs over the next few months. This is an unprecedented mailing the Postal Service is ready to deliver for the American public.
“We are committed to ensuring that economic-impact payments are safely delivered to the citizens of Virginia and prosecuting those who interfere with those efforts,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen. “We will aggressively investigate and prosecute mail theft and tampering related to these impact payments, as well as fraud schemes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will have a critical security and investigative role to ensure these checks make it to intended recipients. U.S. Postal Inspectors are preparing to protect against and prevent criminal activities that may arise relating to the distribution of these benefits. There will also likely be a variety of related fraud schemes to investigate as criminals attempt to exploit these EIP mailings for their own greed.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will partner with the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force on any investigations surrounding EIPs in continued partnership to bring criminals to justice.
The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr, U.S. Attorneys appointed Coronavirus Fraud Coordinators to work with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to protect the public from scammers who are attempting to prey upon fears. If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For More information about the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force, please visit:
Western Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet, USAVAW.COVID19@usdoj.gov or 540-278-1494.
Eastern Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaitlin G. Cooke, Kaitlin.Cooke@usdoj.gov or 804-819-5416.
To report a COVID-19 fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or sending an email to email@example.com.
To file a complaint regarding theft of Economic Impact Payments from the mail or COVID-19 fraud involving the U.S. Mail, please contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at: www.uspis.gov/report or 1-800-ASK-USPS.
Economic Impact Payment Fraud can also be reported directly to the IRS at: WashingtonDCFieldOffice@ci.irs.gov
For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/coronavirus
FBI at: https://www.ic3.gov or 804-261-1044.
To report fraudulent activity to the Virginia State Police, Virginians can contact the Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For continuing information on the COVID-19 virus and the federal response, check https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html