Undoubtedly, this is a time of health fears and the uncertainty of public safety. As a result, law enforcement and the federal government are hypervigilant to protect citizens from scammers who might take advantage of the panic and confusion caused by misinformation. Scammers prey on the confusion of consumers by offering some kind of security or presenting themselves as authorities who can protect them.
In many ways, the recent health crisis has given fraudsters countless opportunities to build their schemes to defraud consumers. Because law enforcement is on the alert for scams, you may be in their crosshairs even if your business is legitimate. If you are facing allegations of having committed fraud related to personal protection equipment or other health-related resources, you may be facing the potential for federal charges as well as civil penalties.
What investigators are seeing
In any crisis, opportunists will find ways to make fast money by preying on people’s fears. The recent global health scare has left many in fear, including businesses, so they may be more willing to agree to the options offered by someone who calls them, texts, contacts them by email or even knocks on their doors. Investigators may believe you are part of any of the following examples of fraud:
- Selling inferior personal protection equipment advertised as appropriate for the current situation despite having no testing or certification
- Offering shipments of bulk PPEs that never arrive after the consumer pays
- Offering to test for the virus as a ploy to obtain someone’s health insurance information
- Selling vaccinations that are fake or that never arrive after the consumer has given financial information
- Sending urgent texts that a loved one is ill and in the hospital and needs money fast
From years of experience, the FBI recognizes certain patterns that fit the method of operation for many scammers. However, you would expect your clients to do their due diligence when working with you for the first time.
What lies ahead?
If something in your Florida business operations has triggered a fraud investigation, you should be aware of what is at stake. You may be facing jail time, fines, the loss of your business, and great harm to your reputation and your future if a court convicts you.
You have the right to know what is happening during the investigation, so you should not be shy about asking questions and taking an active part in your defense strategy.