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Task force formed to fight fraud during pandemic

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford and U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich announced Monday the formation of the Nevada COVID-19 Task Force to fight fraud during the pandemic.

The task force is comprised of local, state and federal investigators and prosecutors with significant experience in handling complaints and cases related to general fraud, health care fraud, Medicaid fraud, insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud and cybercrime, among others. Together, they will share information and resources to protect Nevadans from those using the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of consumers.

All participating agencies will take information, tips and complaints from the public, as well as other local law enforcement agencies seeking assistance. The task force will share resources to monitor, identify and investigate misconduct as efficiently as possible.

“Sadly, it is all too common for fraudsters to take advantage of the public during times of great distress and hardship,” Ford said. “From day one, I’ve focused on protecting Nevada families and consumers, and I’m proud that my office continues to be on the front lines of fighting fraud and helping Nevadans in need. With a united front, we’re showing fraudsters they have no business taking advantage of Nevadans.”

“Our top priority is protecting Nevadans during this public health crisis,” Trutanich said. “I am committed to marshalling the full spectrum of capabilities my office and our federal law enforcement partners can bring to support the task force’s important mission of protecting our vulnerable populations from fraudsters. I urge citizens to contact the task force with information and tips.”

Ford’s and Trutanich’s offices specifically caution residents to be wary of a variety of potential scams. These include diagnosis testing scams, in which scammers offer fake COVID-19 testing kits, particularly door-to-door; treatment scams, with scammers offering fake or unproven treatment regimens that are particularly dangerous because they have the potential to do more harm than good; and charity scams, as scammers set up fake charities to solicit donations almost every time there is a disaster or emergency.

The task force also is targeting price gouging, investment scams involving claims about tests or cures, cyber scams featuring emails seeking personal information, app scams claiming to track the spread of COVID-19 that will include malware to compromise devices and personal information, insurance and Medicaid fraud and even Economic Impact Payments fraud, with scammers pretending to be government officials offering false payments to obtain Social Security or bank account numbers.

In addition to Ford’s and Trutanich’s offices, the Nevada COVID-19 Task Force includes the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the inspectors general of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education and the Small Business Administration Office.

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