US Attorney launches SC COVID Strike Team to curb fraud, price gouging

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — The U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina has announced a Strike Team to combat COVID-19 fraud schemes.

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are part of South Carolina’s new Strike Team.

“We’re working with the state level and the federal level to come together to combine our resources, to make sure we keep South Carolina citizens safe during the pandemic,” said Peter McCoy, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.

McCoy said the team has been meeting regularly, over the phone, to talk about fraud schemes in the state.

“They’ll combine information, and they’ll gather information on different types of scenarios that are going on right now such as fraud, price gouging, such as people who are hoarding necessary medical equipment,” said McCoy.

Even though there’s a pandemic, there are still people who are trying to take advantage of others.

“What’s scary is there are people that are out there right now that will take advantage of people who are scared, vulnerable, who are very upset and at home right now looking for answers,” said McCoy.

But McCoy said the team will investigate and prosecute the schemes.

“Specific to South Carolina, we’re seeing a lot of price gouging. We’re seeing people that are hoarding medical supplies that are absolutely necessary,” said McCoy. “We’re going to send a clear message through state law enforcement, federal law enforcement that this type of behavior will not be tolerated during this pandemic in South Carolina.”

McCoy added that no tip is too small; and that all robocalls, emails or social media posts should be reported.

“Anything that you think is suspicious, it doesn’t do any harm to report it. In fact, it helps us a great deal if we can narrow things down, we can check leads that way,” said McCoy.

Any suspicious activity should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at  1-866-720-5721 or to the NCDF e-mail address disaster@leo.gov.

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