Coronavirus Fraud Schemes

FBI Sees Rise in Fraud Schemes Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic (Source )

Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits. The FBI advises you to be on the lookout for the following:

Fake CDC Emails.

Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize. Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

Phishing Emails.

Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money. Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kits

Counterfeit Treatments or Equipment.

Be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19. Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves. More information on unapproved or counterfeit PPE can be found at You can also find information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website,, and the Environmental Protection Agency website, Report counterfeit products at and to the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at

If you are looking for accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, the CDC has posted extensive guidance and information that is updated frequently. The best sources for authoritative information on COVID-19 are and You may also consult your primary care physician for guidance.

The FBI is reminding you to always use good cyber hygiene and security measures. By remembering the following tips, you can protect yourself and help stop criminal activity:

  • Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don’t recognize.
  • Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in a “.gov” ends in .com” instead).

If you believe you are the victim of an Internet scam or cyber crime, or if you want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

Local Field Office Locations:

The City of Dunkirk Police Department has been receiving several inquiries as to whether or not there is a travel ban or travel advisory in place within the City.  The Dunkirk Police Department would like to inform residents that at this time, there is NOT a travel ban or travel advisory in place within the City of Dunkirk.  However, Police do advise residents to continue the practice of social distancing and to leave their residence only when necessary.  

DPD Implements Safety Measures

The City of Dunkirk Police Department has been monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic daily. We are working closely with County, State and Local Health Professionals and receiving guidance from them on a daily basis. The number one priority for our Department is to effectively serve the City of Dunkirk residents, businesses and visitors in a manner to provide a safe community. During this State of Emergency and in an effort to not jeopardize the staffing levels in this unprecedented and evolving situation, effective immediately the Dunkirk Police Department will be implementing the following safety measures to reduce any possibility of exposure and spread.

When contacting the Police Department please disclose whether you or any member of the household is experiencing any type of illness. Non-Emergency calls for service may be handled over the telephone. Our Officers will be following the universal precaution guidelines for distance, exposure and will be communicating in open outdoor areas whenever circumstances make it possible. Complaints will be taken at the Police Department Desk Window and only essential personnel or anyone deemed authorized will be permitted into the Police Department. These measures are for our safety and protection as well as those we serve. Please try not to inundate our Communications Center with Non-Emergency calls.

We highly encourage everyone to follow the guidelines issued by the CDC as well as the New State and Chautauqua County Departments of Health. Please keep yourself updated by visiting the Chautauqua County Department of Health website

The City of Dunkirk Police Department will continue to provide our best Public Safety to the Community we serve and we are here for you.

By all of us working together we will get through this and we THANK YOU for your understanding and cooperation during this most difficult time for all of us.

Criminal Mischief Arrest

Gabriel M. Soto

On February 25, 2020, at about 4:13 PM, the City of Dunkirk Police were called to Central Ave. for a report of a person causing damage to parking meters. Officers located the damaged meters and quickly located the subject a short distance away from the reported area.

The subject, Gabriel M. Soto, age 27, was identified by witnesses as being the person that did the damage to the meters. Soto was taken into custody and found to be in possession of tools which aided to commit the damage and several hypodermic instruments. 

Soto charged with Criminal Mischief in the 4th Degree (Class A misdemeanor), Possession of Burglar’s Tools (Class A Misdemeanor), and Possession of Hypodermic Instruments (Class A Misdemeanor). He was processed at Police Headquarters and released with an appearance ticket for a future court date as per NY bail reform.

Gunshot Complaint

On February 12, 2020, at about 3:09 PM, City of Dunkirk Police received several calls reporting gunshots fired on Ruggles St. Responding officers quickly located Christian A. Horta-Romero, age 21, of Ruggles St, Dunkirk, NY, coming out from a backyard of a residence on Ruggles St. It was learned through investigation that the subject discharged several rounds from a firearm while in the back yard of the residence.  A loaded firearm was recovered from the scene. The subject is being held in City lock up pending arraignment on charges of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree (Class C Felony) -Discharging a Firearm within the city limits (Dunkirk City Code – Misdemeanor).

Dunkirk Police were assisted by the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department and the New York State Police.

Dunkirk Police and STRDTF Make Drug Sales Arrest

William E. Webb

Members of the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force and City of Dunkirk Police Department have conducted a several month long investigation into the distribution and sale of illegal narcotics in the City of Dunkirk. The investigation lead to Chautauqua County Grand Jury Indictment Warrants being issued for William E. Webb, age 45, of 137 Nevins St, Dunkirk, NY. A warrant was issued for two counts of Criminal sale of a Controlled Substance in the Third Degree. On January 16, 2020, at about 8:30 PM, William E. Webb was located and taken into custody in the City of Dunkirk. Webb was transported to the county jail pending arraignment.

The Dunkirk Police Department and the Southern Tier Regional Drug Task Force encourages the public to please report any illegal activity or illegal drug activity.

Dunkirk tip line 716-363-0313

Stolen Vehicle Pursuit

Dustin S. Barrett

On Thursday, January 16th, 2020 at approximately 8:51 AM, Officers responded to The Resource Center on Lakeshore Drive for a report of a stolen motor vehicle. While investigating the incident, the vehicle was observed traveling eastbound on Lakeshore Drive. Officers located the SUV and attempted to stop the vehicle on West Third Street. The operator of the vehicle refused to stop and led Officers on a pursuit which eventually left the City of Dunkirk, returning into the City several minutes later. At approximately 9:30 AM, the pursuit came to an end on Franklin Avenue and the suspect, Dustin S. Barrett, age 25, of Dunkirk, NY was taken into custody. Barrett was charged with multiple vehicle and traffic charges, along with several penal law charges. The Dunkirk Police was assisted by the New York State Police, Fredonia Police and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department.

Barrett was arraigned in Dunkirk City Court and was released as per New York State Bail Reform.


  • Multiple New York State Vehicle and Traffic violations
  • Aggravated Unlicensed Operation of a Motor Vehicle in the Second Degree
  • Reckless Endangerment in the 1st degree (D Felony)
  • Grand Larceny in the 3rd degree (D Felony), 2 Counts
  • Unlawful fleeing in a motor vehicle (A Misdemeanor)
  • Criminal Possession of a weapon in the 4th degree (A Misdemeanor)
  • Grand Larceny in the 4th degree (E Felony)
  • Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the 4th Degree (E felony)

Arrest Made in Rural Ministries Burglary

Justin A. Baez

Justin A. Baez, 29 age, of Dunkirk has been arrested and charged with the Burglary reported at Rural Ministries located at 319 Washington Ave, Dunkirk on November 21st, 2019.  Baez was arraigned in Dunkirk City Court on the charges of Burglary in the Third Degree, Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree and Petit Larceny.  After arraignment, he was released as part of the New York State bail reform.

Dunkirk Police Officers Read to School 5 students

The Dunkirk Police Department for the fifth year is continuing its involvement with the Police Department Reader Day Program. Officers began in November reading to Dunkirk School #5 students.

Police Officers visit schools and read books to the children. As part of this program the Officers also spend time with the children explaining the job of a Police Officer, answering any questions the children may have and reminding them of some safety tips. 

This program helps to build a positive relationship with the children and let’s them become familiar with Police Officers in a positive setting. The program helps to make children more comfortable with Police Officers and hopefully build positive relationships in the future as well.

We again want to thank the Dunkirk City School District for working together with the Police Department with our programs in the Schools.

Chief David Ortolano and Officer Edwin Gomez reading to Dunkirk School #5 students
From left to right: Officer Amy Noble, Lt. Chris Witkowski, Chief David Ortolano and Officer Edwin Gomez

Multiple Burglary Arrests

Justin A. Baez

On January 8th, 2020, at about 4:24 AM, Dunkirk Police officers received a report of a suspicious subject inside 724 Central Ave, Dunkirk, NY, which is a multiple dwelling. Upon arrival, officers observed Baez run from the scene. After a short foot chase, the subject was taken into custody in the basement of another multiple dwelling house near the corner of 7th & Washington Ave.

Officers determined that Baez unlawfully entered 724 Central Ave and was vandalizing the coin-operated dryer to steal the coins. Further investigation let to Baez having charges filed on him for unlawfully entering Fieldbrook Foods at 1 Ice Cream Dr, overnight on January 5th, 2020, and stealing an employee’s belongings and vandalizing a contractor trailer in the parking lot. Baez was additionally charged for unlawfully entering Ehrheart’s Collsion, 235 Bucknor St, overnight on January 4th, 2020 and stealing cash from inside the business.

Baez was released after appearing in City Court per the new bail reform procedures.