Saturday, April 11, 2020

Man Arrested for Attempt to Defraud the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in Multimillion-Dollar COVID-19 Scam

4-11-2020 - Christopher Parris, a 39-year-old Atlanta, Georgia resident, was arrested yesterday, April 10, and charged in federal court in the District of Columbia with fraud for attempting to sell millions of nonexistent respirator masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs in exchange for large upfront payments, the Justice Department announced.

The criminal complaint charges Parris with wire fraud.  It alleges that he made and caused to be made a series of fraudulent misrepresentations in an attempt to secure orders from the Department of Veterans Affairs for 125 million face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that would have totaled over $750 million.  For example, the complaint alleges that Parris promised that he could obtain millions of genuine 3M masks from domestic factories when he knew that fulfilling the orders would not be possible.  Parris also allegedly made similar false representations to other entities in an effort to enter into other fraudulent agreements to sell PPE to state governments.

“We will vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money,” said Attorney General William Barr.  “As this case demonstrates, even beyond the typical costs associated with unlawful behavior, COVID-19 scams divert government time and resources and risk preventing front-line responders and consumers from obtaining the equipment they need to combat this pandemic.  The Department of Justice will not tolerate this conduct, especially when it involves this kind of egregious attempt to target and defraud our nation’s treasures – our veterans.”

After arrest, Parris appeared before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where he was ordered detained.  Parris will be extradited to the District of Columbia.

“During this time of crisis, fraud or attempted fraud impacting services for veterans, who have selflessly served this country, is unconscionable,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea for the District of Columbia.  “My office will devote whatever resources are necessary to stop scams aimed at exploiting Americans during this unprecedented pandemic.”

Source: US Department of Justice press release dated 4-10-2020

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