The Investigators: U.S. Attorney in West Tennessee assigns COVID-19 coordinator to tackle fraud, price gouging

Cracking down on COVID-19 related fraud

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A new COVID-19 coordinator has been assigned in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in West Tennessee to solely focus on prosecuting fraud related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unfortunately criminal activity does not engage in social distancing and does not self-quarantine,” said U.S. Attorney Mike Dunavant.

For those reasons, Dunavant said he has appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Arvin, a veteran federal prosecutor and senior litigation counsel in the office, to serve as the district’s COVID-19 coordinator.

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Arvin will work with other federal agencies and serve as legal counsel to prosecute or assist in the prosecution of coronavirus cases.

One big focus for the coordinator will be medical supply hoarding, said Dunavant.

“That does violate federal law and so we’re very sensitive to that,” Dunavant told the Investigators. “We obviously want our medical professionals to receive and obtain at a reasonable cost all of the necessary supplies they need to treat Americans during this vital time.”

General Dunavant also echos the FBI’s warning that scammers are pretending to offer stimulus checks to get their hands on your money.

“What I want people to understand is they need to be very careful about that,” said Dunavant. “These agencies will never ask for your social security number or banking information over an email or robocall.”

A national hotline has been created to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19. The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDC) hotline can be reached at 1-866-720-5721 or you can e-mail disaster@leo.gov.

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