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Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Immigration and Customs Enforcement seizes fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine websites

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In the wake of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) probe, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland seized two fraudulent COVID-19 websites.

The domain names, mordernatx.com and regeneronmedicals.com, purported to be the websites of actual biotechnology companies developing treatments for the COVID-19 virus, were, in fact, spoofed websites used to collect personal information of individuals visiting the sites for fraud, phishing attacks, and/or deployment of malware.

Anyone visiting those sites now will receive a message stating that the federal government has seized the site.

“Our cadre of highly skilled special agents, paired with invaluable private sector partnerships garnered through the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, provide an effective strategy to help identify, disrupt and dismantle illegitimate domains used to defraud potential consumers.” ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Derek N. Benner said. “Under Operation Stolen Promise, ICE HSI utilized its broad investigative authority to protect consumers from the increasing and evolving threat posed by COVID-19-related fraud and criminal activity. Now, under Operation Stolen Promise 2.0, HSI’s focus has expanded to combat the next wave of anticipated fraud related to the COVID-19 vaccine and other treatments.”

Benner said the operation illustrates the continual efforts of the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, private industry, and international law enforcement agencies to keep communities free from corruption.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to bringing to justice the criminals that try to take advantage of this global pandemic to line their pockets at the expense of the most vulnerable,” U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur said. “I urge citizens to remain vigilant. Don’t provide personal information or click on websites or links contained in unsolicited e-mails.”