Hunter, Downing coordinate efforts to combat Coronavirus fraud
Ponca City Now - March 27, 2020 10:45 am
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter and U.S. Attorney Tim Downing on Friday announced a state-federal partnership that will combine resources and information to investigate and prosecute con artists attempting to defraud Oklahomans during the Coronavirus emergency.
Both the attorney general and the U.S. attorney for Oklahoma’s western district agree that combining state and federal resources enables the two agencies to more quickly verify allegations, which will expedite the process of stopping and punishing criminals who are using the current crisis for personal profits.
They also believe the collaborative force of the state and federal government serves as a strong deterrent to those thinking of ways to defraud Oklahomans.
“During times of crisis, we should all be taking action to help those in need, not exploiting our neighbors for personal financial gain,” Hunter said. “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. That is why U.S. Attorney Downing and I have decided to combine our efforts to expedite investigations that hold criminals accountable and keep Oklahomans safe. I appreciate his leadership and willingness to team up during this time.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit will work closely with U.S. Attorney Downing’s recently appointed Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator Brandon Hale. In this capacity, Hale serves as legal counsel for the Western District on matters relating to the Coronavirus.
“We will work with Attorney General Mike Hunter to vigorously pursue anyone trying to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic by cheating Oklahoma consumers, especially the State’s vulnerable elders,” Downing said. “Our federal law enforcement team is actively collaborating and cooperating with the state’s top prosecutor team in a concerted effort to stop the scams relating to coronavirus. We will use both our criminal statutes and resources to hold accountable to the fullest extent possible fraudsters who engage in the commission of criminal activity during this time of crisis. I am thankful to Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office for their critical efforts to inform the public and hold criminals accountable.”
Reports of fraud or price gouging can be made to either the Attorney General’s Office or the federal government via the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline.
Contact OAG’s Consumer Protection Unit by calling (405) 521-2029, or by email at [email protected].
Reports can also be submitted to the federal government by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline 1-866-720-5721, or by email at [email protected].
To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.