Targeting COVID-19 Fraud in Pennsylvania

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Hacking and criminal concept.A hacker in a secret hiding place is neon light.

There’s no emergency sufficiently dire nor human tragedy great enough to deter scammers from trying to cash in on them. That’s evident in the growing variety of COVID-19 fraud schemes being concocted and promulgated across the country as government and citizens battle the spread of coronavirus. The U.S. Attorney General has asked U.S. Attorneys nationwide to double down on detecting and prosecuting fraud that seeks to “profit from public panic.” In response, U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady appointed a western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator to investigate potential fraud schemes.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun Sweeny, a Senior Litigation Counsel, will fill this role. In appointing him, Brady called out scams such as email phishing schemes featuring counterfeit virus test kits and fraudulent donation requests for phony or nonexistent charities. He added, “All fraudsters should know that if you cross a state line, use your phone or the internet, DOJ can and will prosecute your crime.”

Sweeny will prioritize the investigation and prosecution of COVID-19 related fraud to protect citizens of western Pennsylvania. Residents who are aware of a potential virus-related fraud scheme should visit www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa to provide detailed information.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a news release from the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Pennsylvania, “U.S. Attorney Brady Appoints Experienced Prosecutor to Fight COVID-19 Fraud,” published Mar. 17, 2020.

PITTSBURGH – United States Attorney Scott W. Brady today announced the appointment of a COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator to lead investigations into potential fraud schemes perpetrated as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Attorney General William Barr has asked U.S. Attorneys nationwide to remain vigilant in detecting, investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis. “The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated,” Attorney General Barr said.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.