One of the most important Senate hearings of the year happened last week, and I can guarantee that you likely missed it. Don’t worry, there was a lot happening in the news. Even the media barely noticed the hearing with the mundane, even benign, title of “COVID-19 Fraud: Law Enforcement’s Response to Those Exploiting the Pandemic.”
However, as an attorney who handles criminal matters in South Carolina, this case definitely got my attention. And not just because the hearing was led by one of the two U.S. Senators from the Palmetto State.
Calvin Shivers, Assistant Director Criminal Investigative Division Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified on what is likely going to be one of the major matters that will be filling criminal dockets for some time to come. PPE scams. Yes, those life-saving pieces of medical equipment that have been in short supply as our nation struggles with Covid-19. According to Shivers, the demand for things such as ventilators, masks and sanitizer has created a climate that is ripe for exploitation. You can watch Shivers and the rest of his testimony here.
Shivers stated that many of the schemes include counterfeit PPE being sold or even worse, not being delivered at all. He said some schemes “involve fraudsters spoofing a legitimate email address known to the recipient or the use of an email address that is nearly identical to one known and trusted by the victim to instruct them to redirect legitimate payments to bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters.” These have occurred numerous times since March. This is happening to government agencies and hospitals at alarming rates.
The reality is that these kinds of schemes are not new. Pretty much anytime there is a large-scale emergency, someone will try to make a fast and illegal dollar off of it. If you are a business, governmental agency or hospital that has been taken in by a scam, please call us at the Ryan Beasley Law Firm.