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Fraud task force asks hospitals for help

ROANOKE — Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force has sent letters to the CEOs of all major hospital systems across Virginia alerting them of potentially fraudulent and illegal activity associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letters apprised hospital leadership of the potential criminal consequences of hoarding certain medical supplies identified as scarce in a March 23 Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump. Some of the 15 categories of health and medical supplies identified as scarce include N-91 masks, portable ventilators, Chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCL, and a variety of other personal protective equipment, such as face masks, surgical masks, gloves and face shields.

In addition to alerting the hospital systems about potential hoarding, the letter also asks administrators to, “identify those individuals or entities that may have acquired vital medical supplies in excess of what they would reasonably use or for the purpose of charging exorbitant prices.”

“Our regional health systems and the brave men and women they employ have a unique vantage point from which to detect potentially fraudulent and illegal hoarding activity associated with COVID-19,” said U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen, who oversees the task force with U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger. “It is our hope that these institutions will partner with us to combat criminal conduct that undermines our collective efforts to slow the spread of this disease.”

Terwilliger added, “It is imperative that we get these critical materials to the people on the front lines. If you are someone who is looking to unjustly enrich yourself off 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.”

For More information about the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/covid-19-fraud. Western Virginia’s Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet, can be reached at USAVAW.COVID19@usdoj.gov or 540-278-1494.

To report a COVID-19 fraud scheme or suspicious activity, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) by calling the NCDF Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or sending an email to disaster@leo.gov.

To report fraudulent activity to the Virginia State Police, Virginians can contact Virginia Fusion Center (VFC) at vfc@vfc.vsp.virginia.gov.

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