107°F
weather icon Clear

FBI sees fewer cybercrimes than expected during COVID-19 pandemic

Updated May 23, 2020 - 6:36 pm

Las Vegas FBI agents have seen a number of recurring cybercrime themes during the COVID-19 pandemic, though the local field office has received fewer than 30 reports of outbreak-related cybercrimes in Nevada since March.

“It’s actually very low. It’s not really what I expected, but thankfully that’s the case in Nevada,” Supervisory Special Agent Hector Sepulveda said Thursday, alongside Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse, during a virtual State of the Field Office address.

The livestreamed event was held exclusively for alumni members of the FBI’s Citizens Academy.

Sepulveda, who leads the Las Vegas field office’s cyber squad, said cybercrimes throughout the pandemic have included email phishing scams with links to websites purporting to be official government websites, fake online N95 mask deals and, because of an increase in online shopping, hackers deploying malware to a company’s shopping cart to skim credit card information during checkout.

“The reality is that there are people that are going to try and take advantage of the crisis, everything from phony cures or even attacking somebody’s ability to collect stimulus,” Rouse said.

The agency has even seen data server attacks on health care providers and research companies attempting to create a vaccine, Sepulveda said, “which is very sad.”

“They’re basically our first responders in this crisis,” he said of health care workers. “There was a moment where we were hoping criminals would not target the health care industry, but they have.”

The Las Vegas field office is among 15 state and federal entities that make up a COVID-19 task force dedicated to investigating pandemic-related scams in Nevada. The task force was formed in April by Nevada U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford.

“Hackers, criminal actors are always trying to exploit whatever’s current,” Sepulveda said, adding that the task force meets on a weekly basis. “COVID is the same.”

Rouse said the pandemic has not slowed down his field office, though he and his staff recognized early on that altered work schedules would be necessary.

“We’ve found a way to make it work, and our people are being very smart,” he said. “We’ve been arresting quite a lot, all across the state. Serious criminals are being taken off the streets.”

Despite the global health crisis, according to Rouse, the FBI in Las Vegas continues to identify and arrest “major dealers and gangs.”

“The FBI can’t take a day off,” he said.

To report COVID-19 fraud, visit www.ic3.gov or www.tips.fbi.gov.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
Shootings during Las Vegas protest leave 1 dead, officer in critical condition
A Las Vegas police officer was shot and critically injured Monday night. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police briefing on shooting during Black Lives Matter protest
Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefs the media on shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest that left one man dead and a Metro officer in critical condition on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Customer reacts to store looting
Longtime customer Najja Hashim talks about the looting of a neighborhood convenience store. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Search continues for homicide suspects - Video
In October 2017, 62-year-old David Rathbun was reported missing by family members and later found deceased in Arizona. The Las Vegas police homicide section is asking for the public’s assistance in locating 55-year-old Charles Ausiello and 45-year-old Jolene Hibbs who are suspects in Rathbun’s death. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two men were stabbed Thursday morning at a central Las Vegas home - Video
Two men were stabbed at a central Las Vegas home, Thursday morning, May 21, leaving both with life-threatening injuries. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Cellphone tower destroyed In Nye County - Video
The Nye County Sheriff's Office is investigating a cellphone tower being destroyed in Pahrump. (Nye County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Shots Fired in Downtown Las Vegas
Police reported that they were investigating a shooting in which a suspect fired a weapon at officers on Fremont Street on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Police briefing on officer-involved shooting northeast of Las Vegas - VIDEO
Metro Police Department Capt. Nichole Splinter gives a briefing from the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Apex Road and Interstate 15, northeast of Las Vegas, Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police ID man killed in officer-involved shooting - VIDEO
A 24-year-old man with a sawed-off shotgun was shot dead by Las Vegas police in front of a red car the man allegedly tried to steal toward the end of car a chase Tuesday with speeds of more than 100 mph through multiple areas of the valley. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide
Las Vegas police are investigating a homicide after a man was found deceased in the parking lot of a strip mall at 9640 W. Tropicana Ave. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Homicide briefing
Las Vegas police investigate a homicide in southwest Las Vegas. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate homicide
Las Vegas police investigate a homicide in southwest Las Vegas. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate officer-involved shooting in east valley - VIDEO
Las Vegas police on Tuesday were investigating an officer-involved shooting in the east valley. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye county detective returns home from hospital - VIDEO
A Nye County Sheriff’s Office detective who was shot in March was released from the hospital Wednesday and is recovering at home with family. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Metro officer arrested for allegedly stealing from K-9 charity
An officer with the Metropolitan Police Department for more than two decades was arrested by the agency on Friday and booked into jail on suspicion of stealing thousands of dollars from a Las Vegas police foundation.
Police investigate shooting in northwest Las Vegas - VIDEO
Las Vegas police are investigating a shooting in the Desert Shores community, near Lake Mead and Rampart boulevards, on Thursday, April 9, 2010. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pahrump man accused of killing roommate in fight over drugs - VIDEO
A Pahrump man was arrested Saturday after the Nye County Sheriff’s Office said he killed his roommate during a fight over drugs. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Las Vegas Strip hotels to honor slain trooper Thursday night - VIDEO
A tribute to honor the life of slain Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Ben Jenkins is scheduled for Thursday night on the Strip. (James Schaeffer and Chase Stevens / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police seek help in identifying central valley robbery suspect - VIDEO
(LVMPD)
Police investigate apparent murder-suicide
Las Vegas police investigate an apparent murder-suicide in the 3900 block of Chasing Heart Way on Saturday, March 28, 2020. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Slain NHP trooper escorted by hundreds of police cars to coroner’s office - VIDEO
Law enforcement vehicles escorted Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Benjamin Jenkins’ body as it was driven to the Clark County coroner’s office Friday night. (James Schaeffer and Le'Andre Fox / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police investigating after man found shot on street in Henderson - VIDEO
A 22-year-old man was found shot to death on a residential street in Henderson on Friday afternoon, police said. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Highway Patrol Fatal Shooting of Trooper - VIDEO
Nevada Highway Patrol press conference on the incident involving a trooper who was shot and killed during a traffic stop Friday morning.
Las Vegas police investigate after man's body found in park - VIDEO
Lt. Ray Spencer briefs the media about a possible homicide at Silverado Ranch Park on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Clark County sheriff, DA talk about crime during coronavirus crisis - VIDEO
The latest on crime and police response during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the takeaways from Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. (Renee Summerour and MIchael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Juvenile shot, injured by Las Vegas police in east valley - VIDEO
A Las Vegas police officer shot a juvenile Friday night in the east valley, the Metropolitan Police Department said. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Armed robbery in central Las Vegas - VIDEO
Surveillance video of a March 12, 2020, armed robbery at a business in the 800 block of North Decatur Boulevard (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
THE LATEST