Efforts combined to battle virus fraud – The Journal Record

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter and U.S. Attorney Tim Downing have formed a state-federal partnership that will combine resources and information to investigate and prosecute con artists attempting to defraud Oklahomans during the coronavirus emergency.

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.

“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 with 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.

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.