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 October 19, 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 1 1 0 3 0 1
April 27 0 0 1 12 4 14
May 13 0 1 0 7 2 8
June 20 1 5 1 5 2 14
July 14 1 5 0 2 0 10
August 24 2 3 0 8 2 18
September 26 0 1 0 13 2 18
October 13 0 1 0 1 0 12
Total 142 5 17 2 51 12 95

Table is current as of October 23, 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 SEC Charges Other CBD Herbal Treatment Colloidal Silver Robocall COVID Equipment COVID Tests Other
March 24 24 0 0 0 0 0 1 10 5 8 0 0 1
April 111 110 0 0 0 1 1 4 36 3 4 1 0 84
May 127 125 0 0 0 2 0 5 71 13 3 1 1 46
June 70 67 0 0 0 3 0 3 19 5 0 1 2 44
July

28

28 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 0 0 0 3 16
August

13

13 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 9
September

6

6 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 4
October

3

3 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0
Total 382 376 0 0 0 6 1 15 150 27 15 3 7 204

Table is current as of October 23, 2020


How many actions have been taken to date?

Combined Enforcement Count
Month Count
March 29
April 138
May 140
June 90
July 42
August 37
September 32
October 16
Total 524

Table is current as of October 23, 2020


Who is taking action against alleged COVID-19 fraud?

Enforcement Action Count
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 29
Joint FTC/Federal Communications Commission 8
Joint FTC/Small Business Administration 8
State Attorneys General 10
US Attorney's Office (USAO) 132
Joint FDA/FTC 97
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 234
US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 6
Total 524

Table is current as of October 23, 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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