U.S. Attorney urges public to report potential hoarding of supplies needed to fight COVID-19
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana
BILLINGS—U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme today urged the public to report potential stockpiling or price gouging of medical supplies needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Justice is getting reports of persons using the coronavirus crisis to stockpile urgently needed medical supplies to make windfall profits at the expense of public health and safety. Hoarding these items makes it difficult for healthcare providers and first responders to resist the spread of COVID-19.
“Hoarding critically needed medical supplies to get rich quick during a pandemic is not only morally reprehensible, it’s illegal. Stockpiling supplies and price gouging puts the health and safety of individuals at risk and hampers efforts to stop the spread of this deadly virus. It cannot and won’t be tolerated.” U.S. Attorney Alme said.
A recent Executive Order authorized a Defense Production Act provision that prohibits hoarding of designated items. The Justice Department’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which designates items, and with the Federal Emergency Management Service, to seize stockpiles of healthcare and medical items where appropriate. Designated supplies include items like masks, ventilators and disinfectants.
This stockpiling prohibition does not apply to regular Americans who are stocking up on daily necessities, businesses needing supplies or manufacturers.
The goal is to locate potential stockpiles of designated materials, quickly confiscate the items and redistribute the supplies where they are needed. Persons caught stockpiling supplies could face prosecution.
Please report COVID-19 hoarding, price gouging and fraud scams to the Department of Justice’s fraud hotline at 866-720-5721 or email email@example.com.
“I want to assure Montanans that my office and our law enforcement partners are fully engaged and ready to investigate and prosecute these cases.” U.S. Attorney Alme said.
For more information on the coronavirus, visit Justice.gov/coronavirus.
Clair Johnson Howard
Clair Johnson Howard
Public Information Officer
Updated April 3, 2020