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FBI policing for fraud, child exploitation and hate crimes during pandemic

Bureau warns virus crisis could cause surge in crimes preying on children, health care providers.

Published: March 28, 2020 2:59pm

Updated: March 28, 2020 3:20pm

The FBI is warning Americans about a potential surge of crimes preying on the vulnerable during the pandemic, including fraud, child exploitation and hate crimes.

The bureau's latest warning came Friday about potential scams targeting health care providers desperate to find supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

"The FBI is warning the health care industry in particular of an increased potential for fraudulent activity dealing with the purchase of COVID-19-related medical equipment," the warning said. "Based on the current stress on the supply chain, scammers may promise equipment they do not have access to in order to capitalize on the medical community’s urgent needs."

The FBI urged the medical community to "exercise due diligence and appropriate caution when dealing with any vendors with whom they have never worked and/or of which they’ve never heard," as well as third-party sellers.

Earlier, agents warned that parents should be extra cautious to protect their children home from school from predators.

Homebound students "will potentially have an increased online presence and/or be in a position that puts them at an inadvertent risk," the FBI said. "Due to this newly developing environment, the FBI is seeking to warn parents, educators, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online sexual exploitation and signs of child abuse."

Local law enforcement also received warnings from the bureau in recent days about potential hate crimes, especially against Asian-Americans targeted because of the Chinese origins of the virus,

"Protecting civil rights and investigating hate crimes remain a high priority for the FBI," the bureau said on its Web site for coronavirus crimes.

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