Tennessee's Top Prosecutors Urge Public To Report Coronavirus And Disaster-Relief Fraud

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The United States Attorneys for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Tennessee together with Tennessee’s Attorney General Make Prosecuting Fraud Schemes Top Priority Tennessee’s top prosecutors—three United States Attorneys and the Tennessee Attorney General—are coordinating their efforts to prevent Tennesseans from being victimized by fraud schemes and other unlawful acts during disaster-relief efforts and the coronavirus pandemic and will investigate and prosecute all instances of coronavirus-related fraud schemes targeting Tennesseans.

Sadly, many Americans fall victim to fraud schemes every day. Our offices are working to investigate and prosecute all schemes related to the coronavirus that are designed to defraud Tennesseans. Our mission is to make sure Tennesseans remain safe from fraudsters during these difficult times.

Although these crises have brought out the best in most Americans, there will always be some individuals who will attempt to profit during a time of emergency. Our offices will not tolerate those who exploit the fear of our most vulnerable citizens. Together we will protect the safety and security of our nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting any fraud scheme related to coronavirus. And, as the central Tennessee region recovers from the damage caused by the devastating tornados, our offices will also coordinate to investigate and prosecute any fraud schemes related to the ongoing disaster relief efforts. Unfortunately, during difficult times, bad actors attempt to capitalize on unsuspecting victims. We want these bad actors to know that taking advantage of these crises will not be tolerated. Any attempt to do so will quickly be investigated and prosecuted. To confront fraud schemes related to the coronavirus, U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed the United States Attorneys and their offices to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of fraud schemes related to the coronavirus. The Tennessee Attorney General’s office has made uncovering and prosecuting these sorts of schemes a priority for his office as well. 

We have acted swiftly to pinpoint and address potential avenues of fraud. One avenue of fraud we are currently addressing is the hoarding of vital medical items and personal protective equipment, including N-95 facemasks, surgical masks and gloves, and disinfecting devices, for the purpose of reselling these items for windfall profits at the expense of public safety and the health and welfare of our fellow citizens. Hoarding and price-gouging frustrate the heroic efforts of our health care professionals who are fighting this epidemic on the front lines. 

Likewise, we will not tolerate instances of fraud, including the selling of fake coronavirus test kits, social media scams, phishing emails asking for money, prescription drug schemes, or any other attempt to prey on the vulnerability of our citizens. We cannot—and we will not—allow opportunists to spark fear in our citizens. As frightening as it may sound, everyone is a potential target. Please be assured, however, our offices will investigate and prosecute anyone who exploits or attempts to exploit our vulnerable citizens during this crisis. 

We ask for your help in reporting any suspicious behavior. If you suspect fraud related to the coronavirus or the disaster-relief efforts related to the tornadoes in the central Tennessee region, please report it through the link at National Center for Disaster Fraud or the NCDF Hotline at 866-720-5721. To contact the Tennessee Attorney General, call 615-741-4737 or email consumer.affairs@ag.tn.gov. Reports of suspected price gouging should include details of the name and location of the merchant, date and time of purchase, method of payment, receipts, price of the item in days prior to the sudden price increase, and the price you paid. Please let your families and neighbors know about our fraud prevention efforts and that we will do our part to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing. More information on these fraud schemes can be found at www.justice.gov/coronavirus 

Please be safe and stay healthy during these difficult times, and may God bless you and your loved ones.

J. Douglas Overbey 
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Tennessee

Herbert H. Slatery, III
Attorney General
State of Tennessee

Donald Q. Cochran
United States Attorney
Middle District of Tennessee

D. Michael Dunavant
United States Attorney
Western District of Tennessee


How The Civil War Will Start

2 Wrongs Never Make A Right

Roy Exum: These Riots Are Surreal


Last night’s protests across the country mark the beginning of a new chapter in American history. We are not in a civil war yet. But that reality is quickly approaching. The military has already ... (click for more)

I was outraged at the apparent excessive police restraint used on George Floyd. The man was on the ground with four police officers on his back, did one really need to put his knee on his neck?According ... (click for more)

On Monday, when an unarmed black man was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis, there were 28 others, predominately black, shot within the city limits of Chicago on the very same day. The ... (click for more)



Opinion

How The Civil War Will Start

Last night’s protests across the country mark the beginning of a new chapter in American history. We are not in a civil war yet. But that reality is quickly approaching. The military has already deployed scouts to assess the situation in Chattanooga. My expectation is that the scouts will conclude the military’s resources are better spent in Nashville and Memphis. But nothing ... (click for more)

2 Wrongs Never Make A Right

I was outraged at the apparent excessive police restraint used on George Floyd. The man was on the ground with four police officers on his back, did one really need to put his knee on his neck?According to Chief Roddy apparently not and I agree. The officer has been charged with murder. Speaking of excessive force, I do not understand how protesters think destroying the property ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Protestors Face Off With Law Enforcement At County Courthouse; Tear Gas Used After Incident On Balcony; Lee Mobilizes Guard And Seeks Further Investigation Into Nashville Unrest

A crowd of some 100 protestors did minor damage at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Sunday night, but left after tear gas was lobbed into a balcony area. Chattanooga Police said afterward the tear gas was thrown by the Sheriff's Office and not the city police. City Police also said they were not given warning that the tear gas was going to be used. In another tense night in ... (click for more)

Erlanger Nurse Fired After Social Media Post About Not Treating Protestors

An Erlanger employee was let go after a Facebook comment was brought to the hospital's attention. Tracy Davis said on Facebook that she was getting a good look at protesters faces and they shouldn't come to her hospital wanting help if they got hurt. Erlanger officials responded on Twitter by saying: "It is important to understand that her comments are her views as an individual. ... (click for more)

Sports

Ray Deering, Popular Baylor School Administrator And Sports Columnist, Dies

Ray Deering, a beloved Baylor School administrator and sports enthusiast who wrote a popular sports column in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has died. A lifelong resident of Chattanooga, Mr. Deering was a 1961 graduate of Chattanooga High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Chattanooga in 1965. At UC he served as the sports editor of ... (click for more)

Trio Of Moc Runners Honored As CoSIDA Academic All-Americans

Nathan Watson, Jonathan Boyd and Abbey Bateman were named to the 2020 CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team, as voted on by sports information directors around the country, for their excellence in the classroom and competition. The 2020 Academic All-District® Women's Track & Field / Cross Country Team, selected by CoSIDA, recognizes the nation's top student-athletes ... (click for more)