Operation Stolen Promise: What to know about the ICE-Homeland Security initiative to stop coronavirus fraud

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As criminals increasingly seek ways to take advantage of the United States’ dwindling health resources and falling economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, multiple law enforcement agencies have pooled their resources to curtail this trend.

Operation Stolen Promise, spearheaded by U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is a program launched earlier this month to protect the nation and global supply chain from fraudulent and criminal activity related to the pandemic.

U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has launched Operation Stolen Promise to fight against coronavirus-related fraud.

U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) has launched Operation Stolen Promise to fight against coronavirus-related fraud. (ice.gov)

One goal has been to facilitate collaboration with multiple federal departments, law enforcement agencies, businesses and industry representatives.

“HIS will bring every asset to bear against anyone targeting consumers with financial schemes or fraudulent products that jeopardize the health and safety of Americans,” HSI’s Acting Executive Associate Director Alysa D. Erichs said. “This unified effort brings a whole-of-government approach to monitor, investigate and arrest those responsible for endangering the public with criminal acts of fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Earlier this month, the FBI sent out an alert warning the public to be on guard against potential scammers and criminals seeking to exploit the pandemic for illicit gains.

Though investigators had anticipated such a situation, they said the pandemic has provided “criminal opportunities on a scale likely to dwarf anything seen before.”

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Since Operation Stolen Promise’s launch, HSI agents have seized over $3 million worth of illicit proceeds, made six arrests, sinkholed over 11,000 COVID-19 domain names and worked alongside U.S. Customs and Border Protection to seize some 225 shipments of fraudulent, unauthorized or prohibited COVID-19 test kits, treatment kits and personal protective equipment, officials said.