Defending Against PPE Fraud Allegations Related to COVID-19
The FBI has warned healthcare providers to be on high alert for possible PPE fraud schemes during the COVID-19 crisis, and this means that all PPE suppliers are facing enhanced scrutiny from federal authorities.
As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to overburden healthcare facilities and strain the nation’s economy, federal law enforcement authorities are turning their attention to prosecuting companies suspected of taking advantage of the crisis for financial gain. In particular, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has recently announced twice – first on March 27 and again on April 13 – that healthcare providers and government procurement offices need to be wary of fraud schemes involving respirator masks, face shields, gloves, and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is taking action as well. The DOJ quickly got involved to investigate the highly-publicized “disappearance” of 39 million N95 protective masks in March, and it announced another large-scale PPE fraud investigation in early April. While these large-scale cases are making headlines, they also mean that much smaller transactions are going to be facing scrutiny from the FBI, DOJ, and other federal agencies as well.
Is Your Company Under Investigation or Facing Allegations of PPE Fraud?
If your company is under investigation or facing allegations of PPE fraud, you need to engage experienced federal defense counsel immediately. Even under normal circumstances, facing an FBI or DOJ investigation is an extremely serious matter, but Attorney General William Barr has stated specifically that the federal government, “will vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money.”
While few business owners would classify themselves as “fraudsters,” the federal government considers both intentional and unintentional wrongful acts to constitute fraud. As a result, regardless of intent, if your company was involved in an unlawful or unsuccessful transaction involving PPE, there is a very real risk that you could find yourself in the government’s crosshairs during the crisis.
With regard to PPE sales specifically, what constitutes “fraud” under federal law? Examples of potential allegations include:
- Collecting payment for PPE that is not delivered
- Supplying PPE that is of lower quality than the PPE that was promised (“bait and switch”)
- Inflating the price of PPE above normal market pricing (also known as price gouging)
- Making false or misleading representations in order to secure a contract to supply PPE
- Selling masks and other equipment that do not provide the protection promised in advertising materials (which may be prosecuted as fraudulent inducement, government contract fraud, or consumer fraud)
Depending on the allegations involved, a federal PPE fraud investigation could lead to civil or criminal penalties. Civil fines can easily climb into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars for large-scale PPE fraud. In criminal cases, company owners can face enormous fines and the potential for five or more years of federal imprisonment.
We Are Defending Companies and Company Owners Nationwide During the COVID-19 Crisis
At Oberheiden P.C., we are actively defending companies accused of fraud and other federal offenses during the COVID-19 crisis. We have particular experience in the healthcare field, and many of our affiliated attorneys and litigation consultants previously prosecuted healthcare fraud cases for the DOJ, FBI, and other federal agencies. If you are under investigation or facing allegations, we can protect you, but it is important that you contact us as soon as possible.
Do not let one mistake lead to a devastating result. To speak with a federal PPE fraud defense lawyer at Oberheiden P.C. in confidence, call 888-680-1745 or request a free case assessment online now. We are available 24/7.