June 05, 2020

Tracking Fraud Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The combination of fear, loosened health care regulations, and unprecedented cash infusions into the economy create fertile ground for health care scams and fraud. Regulatory flexibilities and deficit spending are both reasonable responses to the COVID-19 crisis, but law enforcement and health regulators will have to be vigilant for the bad actors who are exploiting the COVID-19 emergency and defrauding consumers and payers.

From fake vaccines and cures to subpar personal protective equipment to hoarding and price gouging, indictments and arrests are occurring at an alarming rate. Any further efforts by the United States Congress to further stimulate the economy and address implications of the current public health crisis has the potential to open up additional avenues for fraudulent activity.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has taken a number of steps to relax long-established regulatory requirements and processes in the interest of increasing the capacity of the health care system to address COVID-19 and allowing distressed providers to focus solely on patient care. This includes loosening of restrictions around the provision of medication-assisted treatment via telemedicine by the DEA. In so doing, unethical and fringe providers will have the opportunity to engage in wasteful and fraudulent activities in new ways. Where there’s money and demand, there are sure to be crooks.

Below we track COVID-related scammers and fraudsters who have been subject to federal or state law enforcement or regulatory actions. This page is accurate as of June 5, 2020. For more information, please visit the Faegre Drinker COVID-19 Fraud Working Group page or contact the authors below.

What types of charges is law enforcement bringing for COVID-19 fraud?

Law Enforcement Actions
Month Total Actions By Month Charges
Hoarding Price Gouging Anti-Kickback False Claims Mail Fraud Other
March 5 0 3 0 3 0 1
April 27 2 5 0 12 5 10
May 13 2 5 0 3 0 7
June 22 17 20 18 20 1 1
July 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Total 68 21 33 18 38 6 20

Table is current as of July 8, 2020


What types of actions are U.S. regulators taking against individuals engaged in alleged COVID-19 fraud?

Regulatory Actions
Month Total Actions By Month Type of Regulatory Action Area of Interest
Warning Letter CMPs CRL Exclusion from Gov. Programs Other CBD Herbal Treatment Collidal Silver Robocall Other
March 24 24 0 0 0 0 0 9 2 0 14
April 110 110 0 0 0 1 10 40 11 7 48
May 125 125 0 0 0 0 1 69 7 0 76
June

55

55 0 0 0 0 2 17 5 8 27
July

6

6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6
Total 314 314 0 0 0 1 13 135 25 15 165

Table is current as of July 8, 2020


How many actions have been taken to date?

Combined Enforcement Count
Month Count
March 29
April 137
May 138
June 77
July 7
Total 388

Table is current as of July 8, 2020


Who is taking action against alleged COVID-19 fraud?

Enforcement Action Count
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 9
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 212
Joint FDA/FTC 77
Joint FTC/Federal Communications Commission 8
Joint FTC/Small Business Administration 8
US Attorney's Office (USAO) 59
State Attorneys General 9
FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health 5
FDA Office of Biological Products Operations 1
Total 388

Table is current as of July 8, 2020


Please check back as these tables will continue to be updated regularly. Questions about the data in these tables can be directed to the authors shown below.

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