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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District court grants DOJ’s request for TRO against website for selling nonexistent Covid-19 vaccine

Federal Issues Courts DOJ Fraud Covid-19

Federal Issues

On March 22, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granted the DOJ’s motion for a temporary restraining order against an allegedly fraudulent website. In its announcement of the court’s action, the DOJ detailed that it had filed a complaint against the operator of a website (defendant) that purported to offer Covid-19 World Health Organization vaccine kits to consumers for free, if the consumers paid $4.95 in shipping charges. In its complaint, the DOJ alleged that the defendant was engaged in a scheme to defraud consumers by charging them $4.95 for shipping for the vaccine—which does not exist—and collecting the consumers’ credit card information for purposes of “fraudulent purchases and identity theft.” The DOJ alleged that the defendant was “engaging in and facilitating a predatory wire fraud scheme exploiting the current Covid-19 pandemic.” Among other things, the Department also requested a permanent injunction against the defendant.

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