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We have been writing and speaking on the danger that scammers will try to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have already seen evidence of pandemic related fraud. For example, fundraising for illegitimate charities, theft of stimulus checks, and promotions of bogus cures. Now the Massachusetts United States Attorney is warning about Covid-19 Health Fraud.
Recently, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling informed health care providers that his office is prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of fraud related to the pandemic. Certainly, a hallmark of high-profile disasters is the ensuing wave of fraud. As a result, the Massachusetts United States Attorney’s office is focusing on those criminals “engaged in hoarding and/or price-gouging with regard to critical medical supplies.”
Price-gouging fraud is particularly insidious given the widespread lack of personal protective equipment and testing. Indeed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has designated 15 categories of medical supplies as “scarce,” triggering additional enforcement remedies.
As United States Attorney Lelling explains, price-gouging is “not only morally repugnant” but also “will inhibit hospitals, physicians, other health care professionals, and government agencies from fully implementing measures designed to save lives and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.”
U.S. Attorney Lelling asked hospitals and others in the health care industry to report companies suspected of hoarding or price-gouging. This includes the 15 categories of health and medical supplies designated as scarce.
The Department of Justice has likewise asked whistleblowers to be on the lookout for:
Our office specializes in helping whistleblowers of all types report fraud to the government. Several government programs exist to protect and reward whistleblowers who take a stand to stop criminals from profiting from this crisis.