Justice department aims to shut down 300 websites fraudulently claiming to sell sterilization products

The Department of Justice announced Aug. 12 it obtained a temporary restraining order against three people who operate more than 300 websites fraudulently selling products such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes during the pandemic.

Four things to know:

1. Thousands of people from across the U.S. tried to purchase items from the fraudulent websites. The buyers did not receive the products they paid for.

2. Three residents of Vietnam oversaw the operation, which created hundreds of email accounts and accounts with payment processors in the U.S. to hide the scheme from law enforcement.

3. The three defendants are also accused of listing fraudulent contact information on the website so unhappy customers were calling unaffiliated businesses and individuals to complain.

4. To avoid falling victim to similar schemes, the justice department recommends independently verifying the source before purchasing supplies from a website and to check the website's email addresses. The agency also warned against opening email attachments from unknown sources and ignoring offers about COVID-19 vaccines or treatments.

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