Tom Dreisbach

Tom Dreisbach is a correspondent on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories.

His reporting on issues like COVID-19 scams and immigration detention has sparked federal investigations and has been cited by members of congress. Earlier, Dreisbach was a producer and editor for NPR's Embedded, where his work examined how opioids helped cause an HIV outbreak in Indiana, the role of video evidence in police shootings and the controversial development of Donald Trump's Southern California golf club. In 2018, he was awarded a national Edward R. Murrow Award from RTDNA. Prior to Embedded, Dreisbach was an editor for All Things Considered, NPR's flagship afternoon news show.

The government agency responsible for policing Wall Street brought the fewest number of insider trading cases in decades, according to the most recent available data.

That decline came just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Securities and Exchange Commission now warns that the pandemic has created wild swings in the market and more opportunities for insider trading.

NPR reviewed data from the 1980s through last year and found that under the Trump administration, the SEC brought just 32 insider trading enforcement actions in 2019, the lowest number since 1996.

The federal government has repeatedly warned Americans about scammers trying to sell dietary supplements as a remedy for COVID-19 when medical experts say supplements are neither safe nor effective for treating the disease.

But if consumers type "coronavirus supplement" or "COVID supplement" into the search bar at Amazon.com, not only does the online retailer auto-complete the search, it serves up pages and pages of supplements without any warning about the scientific evidence.

Dr. Lauren Jenkins says her medical training has always taught her to think of the worst-case scenario. And one day this past March, that's exactly where her mind went.

It was early into the coronavirus pandemic. Jenkins, a 37-year-old obstetrician-gynecologist who practices at a hospital in Philadelphia, was cooking for her husband and their nearly three-year-old twins, Pierce and Ashton.

That's when she got a call from a colleague. An anesthesiologist she had worked with during a long surgery about one week earlier had tested positive for the coronavirus.

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In late March, the California company RootMD started advertising "at-home Covid-19 exposure and immunity tests" for consumers worried about the coronavirus. For $249, the company said it would mail out a test kit — including a "lancet" that buyers could use to prick their finger and collect a blood sample. Then, the company promised, consumers could mail that sample back to "certified MD immunologists" to test for antibodies to the coronavirus, and get results within 48 hours.

The kind of financial schemes depicted in movies like The Wolf Of Wall Street and Boiler Room never went away, and Wall Street's top cops are warning investors that the coronavirus has only created new opportunities for that type of financial fraud.

In response, the Securities And Exchange Commission has "substantially accelerated" its pace of enforcement related to the pandemic, says Stephanie Avakian, who co-directs the SEC's enforcement division.

Mike Feuer, the city attorney of Los Angeles, announced on Monday that his office had "filed a civil law enforcement action against, and achieved an immediate settlement with," a company that had been "illegally selling" an at-home test for the coronavirus.

With government authorities warning an anxious public about scams related to the coronavirus, a California company is facing scrutiny by members of Congress and the city attorney of Los Angeles for selling COVID-19 test kits that it claimed can be used "in the home or at the bedside."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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In the early morning of June 12, 2017, a group of eight Central American migrants decided to go on a hunger strike to protest conditions at the immigration detention center where they were being held in California.

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