COLUMBIA, South Carolina — U.S. Attorney Peter M. McCoy, Jr. recently announced that, in coordination with the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has established the South Carolina COVID Strike Team to pursue the prosecution and investigation of Coronavirus fraud schemes, hoarding, and price gouging activities.
The South Carolina COVID Strike Team is comprised of members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal law enforcement officers, officers with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and members of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. The federal agencies involved include the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Defense Criminal Investigation Service (DCIS), Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As needed, the South Carolina COVID Strike Team is also working with local law enforcement agencies throughout South Carolina.
“It is a sad truth that criminals are always willing to take advantage of every opportunity to prey on the most vulnerable,” said U.S. Attorney McCoy. “In these unprecedented times, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and its federal, state, and local partners remain vigilant, and we will prosecute those who take advantage of Americans during this pandemic.”
There have been numerous cases of fraud, hoarding, and price gauging across the country. The schemes range from fake COVID-19 tests, hoarding of personal protective medical equipment, and scams related to the upcoming COVID-19 economic impact payments. According to U.S. Attorney McCoy, the South Carolina COVID Strike Team began receiving, and responding to, leads related to Coronavirus activity almost immediately after standing up.
Members of the public can report suspected fraud schemes and price gouging related to Coronavirus by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address email@example.com. The NCDF can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all U.S. Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components, to identify, investigate, and prosecute fraud schemes. The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.
To find more Department of Justice resources and information, visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.