News reports are circulating regarding instances across the nation about hoarding vital medical supplies in the time when hospitals and medical health care providers need them most, sometimes being forced to pay exorbitant prices for them.
In response, United States Attorneys and law enforcement leaders across the country are starting to spread the word to be on the lookout for any suspected hoarding and price gouging of desperately needed medical supplies during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Commonwealth of Virginia and the local United States Attorneys for that region have established Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force, led by U.S. Attorneys Thomas T. Cullen and have sent a letter to local hospitals in their region informing them that they will prosecute hoarders and individuals price-gouging vital medical supplies.
The Commonwealth is by no means alone in what is clearly a nationwide effort.
“While this pandemic has brought to the fore the very best among us, we are unfortunately becoming increasingly aware of myriad coronavirus-related criminal activities in our District and around the country,” announces United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Jay E. Town. Nearby in Eastern Kentucky, U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr. reaffirmed, “our Office is focused on deterrence, investigation, and prosecution of wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic—including those engaged in hoarding and/or price-gouging critical medical supplies.”
“These practices are not only morally repugnant in light of the pandemic we are facing, but also, if left unchecked, can inhibit hospitals, physicians and other health care professionals, government agencies, and the public from fully implementing measures designed to save lives and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus,” said U.S. Attorney Town.
“Governor Northam and his administration have no tolerance for any kind of fraudulent activity occurring in Virginia related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran.
“It is imperative that we get these critical materials to the people on the front lines,” stated Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “If you are someone who is looking to unjustly enrich yourself off of this pandemic, and amassing bulk quantities to unfairly extort hospitals and others, we will investigate and take all next steps to ensure these critical supplies get where they are needed most.”
As much as this is a widespread collaborative effort between federal, state, and local levels of law enforcement, they still need our help to locate these suspected hoarding and price gouging practices.
Indeed, U.S. Attorney Duncan, Jr. stated, “we are asking for the help of hospital and medical professionals in identifying individuals and companies that may have acquired vital medical supplies in excess of what would reasonably be used, or for the purpose of charging exorbitant prices. We are committed holding accountable those who are preventing valuable resources being provided to hospitals and other medical professionals who desperately need them.”
“Law enforcement needs the assistance of medical professionals in identifying those who may have acquired crucial medical supplies in excess of what they could reasonably use, or for the purpose of charging exorbitant prices. These supplies should be in the hands of the brave healthcare workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way to protect others, “ said U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank of the District of Maine.
If you, friends, coworkers, or a family member see any medical products or services related to COVID-19 that are:
- Being held in substantial amounts without legitimate and urgent medical need
- Being priced at a significantly higher price than market value, or
- Otherwise appear to be hoarded or priced at an exorbitant amount
Please visit the website of the Department of Justice, FBI, or your local law enforcement office to report the activity and obtain more information.