ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — The Office of U.S. Attorney District of Alaska Bryan Schroder announced a new task force Monday to investigate and prosecute hoarding and price gouging associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a release from the U.S. Attorney District of Alaska, the new effort is aimed at investigating and punishing "wrongdoing related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic" under the authority of an section 102 of the Defense Production Act which "prohibits hoarding of designated items."
The order applies to scarce healthcare resources and medical items as designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who has the ability to place particular resources under the Defense Production Act statute.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services subsequently provided a list of designated items necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which now fall under the statute, including:
- N-95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators
- Other Filtering Facepiece Respirators (N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, or P95, P99, P100);
- Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges
- Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR)
- Portable Ventilators
- Chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl
- Sterilization services for certain medical devices and certain sterilizers
- Disinfecting devices and other sanitizing and disinfecting products suitable for use in a clinical setting
- Medical gowns or apparel, e.g., surgical gowns or isolation gowns
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) coveralls, e.g., Tyvek Suits
- PPE face masks, PPE surgical masks, PPE face shields, PPE gloves or surgical gloves
- Ventilators, anesthesia gas machines modified for use as ventilators, and positive pressure breathing devices modified for use as ventilators, ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories
U.S. Attorney Schroder says in the statement that Alaskans need to be vigilant in reporting COVID-19 related hoarding or fraud activities.
“The Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska, will not tolerate those who try to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to defraud the people of our state,” Schroder said in the statement. “The pandemic continues to cause anxiety and uncertainty across the country. At a time when our country needs to join together, it is repugnant that fraudsters will try to take advantage of our communities."
Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of a scam or attempted fraud related to COVID-19 can report incidents without leaving home:
- FBI Anchorage Field Office - 907-276-4441
- National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline - 866-720-5721
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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