Fraud in the Time of COVID

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There’s a new bipartisan bill proposed which would increase the penalties for scammers who have specifically targeted Covid-19 related issues. It seems that the scammers were already right on it, looking for ways to rip people off during a pandemic, and the  House of Representatives have taken issue, to the tune of 15 to 35 years in jail and millions of dollars in extra penalties.

When a global pandemic comes along, most people’s thoughts would generally run towards fear for their health, fear for their families, and worry for the future.  Unfortunately, there is a breed of mutant underground dweller whose first thoughts run to ways of exploiting that fear in order to make money off of tragedy.  There are stories already of phishing scams used to separate mostly older people from their Covid stimulus checks, and apparently there are counterfeit, or substandard masks being sold. On top of that, the IRS has investigated at least 15,000 fake websites.  Because of the egregious nature of the timing of these specifically COVID based crimes, the penalties for these federal crimes would be very harsh – 45 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine for fraud, and 45 years in prison plus a $2.5 million fine for counterfeiting.

If the bill passes, and there is some doubt that it might, this would be a huge step forward in taking care of the human fungus that would stoop to taking advantage of their fellow humans during a worldwide crisis.  There will always be sociopaths for whom compassion towards their fellow humans means nothing, and that brings me to the unfortunately unpunished portion of society that are also taking advantage of the situation.

What are we as a society going to do about the colossal failure of the President to act when warned in advance that we were facing a pandemic?  Who failed to act for years when the “cupboards were bare” of personal protective gear, if that was so? Why did so many masks get shipped to China from the U.S. if it left us without enough for our front line workers? The health industry and private citizens would not be vulnerable to the counterfeiters of masks if there was not such a lack of action/poorly thought out action before the virus hit our shores, and if the leadership saw fit to protect us from any possible health emergency by being well-stocked.  Where is the prison penalty for the President who dropped the ball of responsibility for the states when the shit was hitting the fan?  If only dereliction of duty was looked at as a federal crime.

What about the large corporations holding out their hands for loans meant for smaller businesses?  Will there be additional penalties for those entities for taking those monies under false pretenses? We have seen the rich get richer and the middle class and poor getting screwed over and over during this administration.  The proposed penalties for the scammers is right and good – but there needs to be accountability for the dereliction of duty by our Scammer in Chief and the fraud perpetuated by the greedy corporations as well.

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