#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | Westchester County District Attorney Operations During the Coronavirus Outbreak

The District Attorney’s Office has more than 200 staff who work in offices in the County Courthouse and County Executive Building in White Plains as well as in eight branch offices around the County. District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. says, “Like every other organization, the health and well-being of our staff and those we work with and serve is important to us; but so is the important work we do every day to keep Westchester safe.

With that in mind, we are making provisions to mitigate unnecessary contact among staff and others. None of this will change how we investigate and prosecute crimes. We have notified police departments and other agencies of our emergency Office policies:

  • With the exception of court appearances, all interaction with outside agencies, such as meetings and training sessions, must occur by phone or via the internet, or must be canceled.
  • Interviews with witnesses and victims should take place by phone when possible and appropriate.
  • In addition, all travel on behalf of our office is canceled.

A number of local courts in the County have either closed and/or are rescheduling proceedings. That information can be obtained directly from the local courts or Office of Court Administration.
Defense attorneys and defendants will be notified by the courts in changes of scheduled appearances.

Hate Investigations:
The DA’s Office has received reports of threatening and hateful emails sent to at one least victim of the virus. Because the initial reports of the virus in Westchester were associated with a Jewish congregation, those emails have also included wording that could be considered anti-Semitic. The DA’s Office Hate Crimes Unit is currently working with local law enforcement to investigate these threats. We take them seriously. They are not widespread. But we would like to remind everyone to be calm during this time and be tolerant of your neighbors. And report any concerns you have that you or someone else may be a victim of crime.

Coronavirus Scams:
The DA’s Office is amplifying warnings regarding Coronavirus and actions being taken by other state and federal offices including the NY Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other law enforcement agencies.
The DA has directed our Westchester Intelligence Center to monitor interagency data and alerts re: potential fraud as well as monitoring social media which may be spreading false information and trolling for cyber victims related to the virus outbreak. At this time, we have no reports of scams here in Westchester.

What do scams look like?

*Only give money to legitimate charities:
If you receive phone calls asking for charitable donations related to coronavirus outbreaks either in the U.S. or oversees, do not give credit card information. Do not send money or gift cards.

*Avoid email phishing attacks:
Malicious cyber actors could take advantage of public concern surrounding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) by conducting phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns. Phishing attacks often use a combination of email and bogus websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information.

We encourage individuals to guard against COVID-19-related phishing attacks and disinformation campaigns by taking the following precautions:

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in emails, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.

If online fundraisers, like GoFundMe campaigns, are being circulated, do not respond unless you personally know the recipient of the money.

*Bogus products:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are currently no products, drugs, supplements or vaccines available to target or help cure COVID19. Whether sold via email, over the internet or door-to-door, do not buy. 

Note to County residents: If you have fallen victim to any of these kinds of scams, keep any written or digital records you may have, and notify the DA’s Office at (914) 995-3414.

We encourage you to turn to trusted sources of information—such as legitimate, government websites—for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19.

Reminder regarding medical and other questions:

  • For Westchester County COVID-19 Information Call the Westchester County Help Line at 211.
  • The NYS Department of Health experts are available to answer questions regarding COVID-19 via phone. Call the Hotline (888) 364-3065.

 In compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 3.6, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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