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December 14, 2020El Paso, TX, United StatesCovid-19

ICE warning on fake COVID-19 vaccines, counterfeit PPE, bogus preventive medical treatments

Agency seeks victims and encourages public to report fraud

EL PASO, Texas — As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to claim lives, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) warns individuals who may try to exploit the crisis for illegal financial gain.

Fraudulent schemes may include the sale of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and so-called preventive medical treatments. ICE HSI El Paso seeks to identify people who may be victims of COVID-19 related fraud.

In the past nine months, ICE HSI El Paso special agents have received information, developed leads and investigated cases that involve such schemes.

ICE HSI anticipates that these criminals will adapt to capitalize on the overwhelming public demand for access to vaccines and treatments as they are developed and approved. In response to this threat, ICE HSI launched Operation Stolen Promise 2.0 to protect Americans from the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity.

“We anticipate that criminal networks will try to illegally introduce and sell counterfeit vaccines and medical treatments that could endanger lives of U.S. consumers,” said Erik P. Breitzke, acting special agent in charge of ICE HSI El Paso. “We have already identified a local individual who was advertising invasive and potentially dangerous COVID-19 preventive treatments on social media.”

ICE HSI El Paso is seeking information from members of the public who may have received unauthorized COVID-19 prevention treatments. Individuals who received these treatments are asked to contact ICE HSI by calling (915) 730-7012, or send the information via email to COVID19FRAUD@DHS.GOV.

Those individuals are also encouraged to contact their primary care physician, local health department or nearby urgent care facility for COVID-19 testing.