Millions of Dollars Worth of PPE Fraud in the ATL
While COVID-19 continues to rise, so do the number of scammers and swindlers. Personal Protection Equipment, or PPE, has been in high demand ever since the pandemic began. From a drastic shortage to what seemed like an influx—equipment that healthcare workers, patients, and those who are more vulnerable to the virus desperately need have been on an availability roller coaster. This also includes the elderly who may be more susceptible to scams.
Unfortunately, these are the groups of people that COVID scammers are exploiting in order to get rich quick.
N95-type face masks with respirators are an example of PPE that many individuals and companies have begun creating in a fraudulent manner in order to turn a profit—and the attorney general and FBI are already on top of it.
A shocking case of PPE fraud that has come to light in the media is one out of Atlanta, Georgia. A man, Christopher Parrish, was recently arrested for allegedly charging the Department of Veterans Affairs an order of $750 million worth of PPE, which he knew in advance that he had no intention of fulfilling.
He not only lied, was charged with wire fraud, but exploited a very vulnerable group of people during this difficult time.
Parris faces up to $250,000 in fines for his charges along with up to 20 years in federal prison.
“COVID-19 scams divert government time and resources and risk preventing front-line responders and consumers from obtaining the equipment they need to combat this pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a statement. “We will vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money,” (PlatteRiverRadio).
If that isn’t a lesson to the public about COVID fraud, then who knows what is!
What should you do if you are a victim of COVID-19 fraud?
The FBI advises that if you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can:
- Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 866-720-5721 or online at justice.gov/DisasterComplaintForm
- Report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov
- Contact your local FBI field office or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov
Stay safe out there!