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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Treasury's Crime Network Warns of Rise in COVID-19 Scams

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Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) warned financial institutions late Monday about the rising medical scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The alert, the first of several advisories FinCEN plans to issue on financial crimes related to COVID-19, also contains information on reporting suspicious activity and highlights fraud red flags.

A companion notice was also issued by FinCEN providing filing instructions for financial institutions, which will serve as a reference for future COVID-19 advisories.

FinCEN analyzes COVID-19-related information obtained through public reports, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data, and law enforcement partners.

According to the alert, several federal agencies have detected fraudulent COVID-19-related cures, tests, vaccines and associated services being offered to the public.

For instance, the Department of Justice set up the Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force on March 24 to address COVID-19-related market manipulation, hoarding and price gouging.

DOJ has spotted individuals selling surplus items or newly acquired bulk shipments of goods, such as masks, disposable gloves, isopropyl alcohol, disinfectants, hand sanitizers, toilet paper and other paper products at inflated prices because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Payment methods vary by scheme and can include the use of prepaid cards, money services businesses, credit card transactions, wire transactions or electronic fund transfers, the alert states.

BSA data, as well as information from other federal agencies, foreign government partners and public sources indicate possible illicit activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic that also involve price gouging and hoarding of medical-related items, such as face masks and hand sanitizer.


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