May 28, 2020

Global COVID-19 Threats Persist as Online Fraud and Theft Continue

Director Matthew Rubin authored an article for The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy regarding the ongoing threats posed by illegal internet activity focused on COVID-19.

In the United States alone, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has received more than 55,000 complaints related to COVID-19 fraud nearing $41 million in total losses. Upwards of 100 individuals and companies have now received warning letters from FTC for COVID-19-specific infractions, with 52 additional warning letters issued jointly. Outside of the U.S., the European Commission’s European Anti-Fraud Office indicated that it had identified more than 340 individual corporate entities that were responsible for the facilitation of counterfeit and substandard product sales throughout member states.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Operation Quack Hack has demonstrated the pervasiveness of coronavirus fraud, with agency officials noting the continued availability of fraudulent and substandard drugs, testing kits, PPE and medical devices. Rubin asserts that efforts should be made to augment and amplify efforts by FDA and others to “work with online marketplaces, domain name registrars, payment processors and social media websites to remove from their platforms products that fraudulently claim to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19 and to keep those products from reappearing under different names.”

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