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COVID-19 scams rampant nationwide – and in SWFL

COVID-19 ripoffs are rampant nationwide and that includes here in Southwest Florida.

We talked one-on-one with one of the agencies that crackdown on these cons.

It’s called “Operation Stolen Promise” and leading the charge is Homeland Security Investigations.

HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Micah McCombs oversees the investigations in our area.

“We have a large number of fraud investigations with either products coming from overseas or people in our community that are initiating some of these fraud schemes,” he said.

Right now, HSI has investigated more than 113 cases nationwide leading to several search warrants and arrests.

They’ve seized fraudulent test kits, masks and even fake COVID-19 treatments.

A lot of this fraud takes place online. HSI has “sinkholed,” or shut down, more than 11,000 COVID-19-related internet domain names.

There have not been any arrests in our area, but McCombs says, “We’re seeing hoarding investigations, price gouging investigations, fraudulent material crossing our international borders.”

So to fight the fraud, HSI is marshaling the efforts of many agencies, but the battle has really just begun.

“We’re gearing up to take action,” McCombs said.

One of McCombs’ immediate worries is fraud associated with economic stimulus payments.

If you think you’re a victim, you can report it here.

Reporter:Rich Kolko
Writer:Briana Harvath
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