United States Attorney William M. McSwain Seeks Partnerships with Health Care Institutions to Stop Coronavirus-Related Fraud
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain sent a letter to area health care institutions today to advise them that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is working with its federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who seek to exploit the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic for their own financial benefit. In his letter addressed to hospital leaders across the District, U.S. Attorney McSwain asked for their assistance in identifying those suspected of perpetrating coronavirus-related crimes and urged them to report suspicious conduct to his Office.
In his letter, U.S. Attorney McSwain identified several types of coronavirus-related crimes. In addition to preventing and punishing hoarding and price gouging relating to critical health and medical supplies, he reiterated his commitment to prosecuting all types of coronavirus-related fraud scams, including fraudsters who advertise and sell fake or non-existent medical equipment or phony cures, steal personal identifying information, and engage in other cybercrimes related to the pandemic.
“If left unchecked, these bad actors can inhibit hospitals, physicians, and other health care professionals, as well as governmental agencies and the public, from mitigating the spread of the coronavirus and from successfully saving lives,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “We are all extremely grateful for the vital work these health care professionals are performing on a daily basis. I look forward to collaborating with area health care systems and hospitals to protect the community and enforce the laws of the United States during this time of national emergency.”
For health care institutions, illegal hoarding and price gouging of health and medical supplies is of critical concern. To that end, the letter identifies the health and medical supplies that the Secretary of Health and Human Services has designated as “scarce” pursuant to the Defense Production Act, and advises that hoarding or selling these supplies at exorbitant prices will trigger criminal penalties and civil enforcement remedies that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will aggressively pursue. There are fifteen (15) categories of critical health and medical supplies covered by the Act:
- N-95 filtering facepiece respirators
- Other filtering facepiece respirators (e.g., those designated as N99, N100, R95, R99, R100, P95, P99, or P100)
- Elastomeric, air-purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges
- Powered air purifying respirators (PAPR)
- Portable ventilators
- Drug products with active ingredient chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl
- Sterilization services for any device as defined in Section 201(h) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, and sterilizers as defined in Title 21, Sections 880.6860, 880.6870 & 880.6880 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Disinfecting devices intended to kill pathogens and other kinds of microorganisms by chemical means or physical means, 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 McSwain encouraged hospital employees to report any coronavirus-related suspicious activity or fraud schemes to his Office and to the national hotline at The National Center for Disaster fraud at 1-866-720-5721 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.