Hundreds of complaints about coronavirus-related fraud and price gouging have poured into the offices of the Oklahoma attorney general and U.S. attorney for the western district. And that helped prompt the offices to agree to team up to investigate and prosecute fraud artists.
“During times of crisis, we should all be taking action to help those in need, not exploiting our neighbors for personal financial gain,” Attorney General Hunter said in a joint news release Friday. “However, it is an unfortunate reality that since the president’s emergency order, both of our offices have been inundated with calls about price gouging and scams related to the coronavirus. We anticipate the situation worsening before it gets better.”
The news release said Hunter’s consumer protection unit will work closely with U.S. Attorney Tim Downing’s recently appointed coronavirus fraud coordinator, Brandon Hale.
Alex Gerszewski, spokesman for Hunter, said 208 complaints have been submitted to the office since March 13, when President Trump declared a national emergency that triggered Oklahoma’s price-gouging law. Most of the 208 complaints have been about gouging, though most have been unsubstantiated. No complaints have led yet to legal actions.
Other states have announced similar crackdowns, and a week ago the Justice Department announced it was ordering all U.S. attorneys to prioritize going after coronavirus-related fraud schemes.
Reports of fraud or price gouging can be made to the consumer protection unit at (405) 521-2029 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They also can be reported to the federal government through the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline, at 1-866-720-5721, or by email at email@example.com.