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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
During a crisis, scammers seek to profit from public panic. Amid the fear and anxiety of COVID-19, a number of fraudulent schemes related to COVID-19 have already been identified. Communities must be vigilant in identifying and publicizing these scams in order to protect their most vulnerable members. State and local authorities have their federal partners’ support and encouragement to investigate and prosecute scammers perpetrating criminal acts. In addition, a number of federal agencies have websites and other resources to support state and local partners during the crisis response with the most updated information.
The central repository for U.S. government resources and information on the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis is https://www.coronavirus.gov/. There is also a Spanish-language site, Respuesta del Gobierno ante el coronavirus. These websites are supported by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) coronavirus medical response website.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Report COVID-19 Fraud website includes a list of federal partners that can support local and multijurisdictional investigations of scammers. In addition, the DOJ has identified a number of common scams, and the steps community members can take to avoid being victimized:
During the COVID-19 crisis, law enforcement agencies can use social media to engage with the public about scams, along with sharing news updates and positive stories of first responders helping during the crisis. Be sure to share both local and national resources on identifying and reporting scammers, since stories on social media may spread beyond your local area. Law enforcement agencies can work with partners such as the county or state victim services, local U.S. Attorney’s offices, school districts, and local government. Social media promotion with local partners multiplies the positive impact for communities and creates a network of verified, trusted partners.
The federal government maintains a digital services website that provides guidance, including multiple resources on social media engagement during the crisis: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for U.S. Government Websites and Social Media.
During the COVID-19 crisis, public trust in law enforcement is essential, and the community looks to police and sheriffs to maintain safety and act as an information resource. More than ever during the crisis, law enforcement is integral to the community structure, and the federal government supports state, local, and tribal partners in their work.
FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control
FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center
National Center for Disaster Fraud
Building Productive Relationships With Media: Dealing with the New Media Culture During Crisis Situations
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