Another Thing to Fear Out There: Coronavirus Scammers

Inside, he saw pallet upon pallet of N95 protective masks, surgical gowns, Clorox wipes and hand sanitizers. “He had everything, right from the factory, certified real stuff,” Dr. Salerno said.

The doctor said he tried and failed to alert the state attorney general’s office. But the morning after a local television station aired a story about his experience, F.B.I. agents appeared at his office.

“We jumped all over it,” said Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey who leads the task force from Newark. “It’s outrageous. If I was married to, or if I was a health care professional, I would be horrified right now that I can’t get the simple equipment I need for protection.”

The seller, Baruch Feldheim of Brooklyn, ran a company called “Solo Supplies” that had compiled a vast stockpile on the open market, including from a source in Canada, of 192,000 N95 masks, 598,000 pairs of surgical gloves and 130,000 other items like surgical masks, the authorities said.

Mr. Feldheim was arrested on Monday and charged with false statements and — because agents said he deliberately coughed in their direction and said he was sick with the virus — assaulting a federal officer. Asked why he was not charged with the crime of hoarding essential materials, authorities said that the investigation was continuing.

Using its authority under the Defense Production Act, the federal government bought Mr. Feldheim’s entire inventory — at standard prices — and shipped it to hard-pressed medical workers in New York and New Jersey.

“It’s just about the most un-American thing that I have encountered in my life,” Mr. Carpenito said. “People are out there looking to profit, despicably, from the greatest national crisis we have seen since World War II.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/us/politics/coronavirus-scams-fraud-price-gouging.html

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