The United States government seized a COVID-19 domain after the seller tried to exchange it for Bitcoins (BTC) in a hackers’ forum.
27 April, 2020 | AtoZ Markets – The United States Department of Justice has seized COVID-19 domain (coronaprevention.org), which has been advertised to criminals by an alleged money launderer. The justice department also claims that the owner put the domain for sale on a pirate forum. It was the day after President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration in response to COVID-19.
The move follows Attorney General William Barr’s goal of dismantling fraudulent websites taking advantage of the pandemic to defraud the public. Moreover, the department’s priority is the “detection, investigation and prosecution” of illicit activities related to the coronavirus. The seller’s ad promoted the domain as an effective way to sell “high-profit margin” products. However, the domain has removed and redirected to the notice of seizure from the Ministry of Justice.
Fraudster Tries to Offload COVID-19 Domain for $500
An affidavit included in the warrant from Michael Johnson, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI. It also states that an HSI agent hired the owner of the domain on the forum. The HSI agent claimed to sell fake coronavirus test kits. The site owner described it as a genius. Moreover, they intended to sell fraudulent tests. But they could not get enough money to buy them at Alibaba. “
The owner asked for $500 worth BTC for the domain, with the HSI agent making a partial payment. As such, Johnson also asserts that there is a probable cause suggesting that the owner of the domain “laundered and encouraged monetary instruments.
US Attorney Timothy J. Shea has also expressed the agency’s firm commitment to hunting down malicious actors who attack people’s fears amid the pandemic. “We will not tolerate this national emergency used for personal gain,” said Mr. Shea. According to William S. Walker, special agent of the HSI of Philadelphia in charge of the operation:
“Unfortunately, criminals are using the current pandemic as an opportunity to generate profits while so many Americans are suffering. HSI and our partners will continue to aggressively pursue those who attempt to illegally profit from this crisis through illicit lucrative activities“.
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