In recent weeks, regulators such as the FDA, the FTC and the New York Attorney General have started to crack down on possible illegal or fraudulent commercial activity related to the coronavirus.  My colleagues have covered that here, here, and here.  Now, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) is getting into the mix.  

In a memo issued last week, the DOJ reported that it has received complaints of numerous scams related to COVID-19, including robocalls making fraudulent offers to sell respirator masks and other personal protective equipment; phishing emails asking for money or presenting malware; prescription drug schemes with false and misleading medical claims that are marketed as purported cure for COVID-19, and sales of fake testing kits, cures, "immunity" pills, and other protective equipment.

The DOJ memo instructed its field offices to prioritize enforcement activity related to COVID-19 scams.  The memo also listed a number of federal statutes that these fraudulent practices may violate including wire fraud, computer fraud, healthcare fraud, and conspiracy to commit fraud (to name a few).  The memo also instructed field offices to be on the lookout for instances of illegal hoarding of medial supplies (which could violate the Defense Production Act), and price fixing and bid rigging (which would violate federal antitrust laws).  Federal law enforcement offices were also instructed to coordinate with state in local law enforcement in the relevant jurisdictions to carry out enforcement activity. 

Beyond identifying some clearly illegal schemes, the DOJ memo is a helpful primer on the criminal statutes that may be in play whenever an individual or business is accused of false or deceptive commercial practices.