Shaheen Calls on DOJ to Establish New England COVID-19 Task Force to Protect Americans from Scams, Price Gouging Amid Public Health Crisis

April 11, 2020

SHAHEEN: “States in the New England region have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, and we must ensure that PPE ends up in the right hands and those committing illegal and fraudulent activity are stopped. This Task Force will go a long way in identifying criminal activity, redistributing PPE and preventing criminals from preying on more innocent victims.”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the lead Democrat of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice (DOJ), called on Attorney General William Barr to establish a New England COVID-19 Task Force to coordinate federal and state agencies, prosecutors and law enforcement to address scams, price gouging and other deceptive practices associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her letter, Shaheen applauded the DOJ’s recent efforts to identify the hoarding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and redistribute the equipment to those on the frontlines of the pandemic, which has been facilitated through the Department’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force. Shaheen explained that this type of coordination should be expanded to smaller United States Attorneys’ Offices (USAO) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Field Offices, and in her letter, calls for the establishment of a New England COVID-19 Task Force. 

Shaheen wrote, “States in the New England region have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, and we must ensure that PPE ends up in the right hands and those committing illegal and fraudulent activity are stopped. This Task Force will go a long way in identifying criminal activity, redistributing PPE and preventing criminals from preying on more innocent victims.” 

Shaheen’s letter can be read in full here. 

Senator Shaheen has worked across the aisle to protect Americans from being taken advantage of amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Shaheen and a bipartisan group of Senators called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams. In response to the recent increase in these scams, the letter to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons called on the FTC to better inform seniors about coronavirus scams and assist victims in understanding their recourse options to ensure that seniors are protected from those attempting to financially exploit them during the pandemic. 

Senator Shaheen has fought for and voted in favor of three economic response bills to provide financial relief to states in their response efforts, to support workers, businesses and families impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, and new legislation to provide immediate financial relief to those affected by the pandemic. The President signed all three bills into law. The first economic package led to New Hampshire receiving an initial $4.9 million in funds from the CDC. Shaheen was a lead negotiator on the third economic response bill, where she worked around the clock with Senators Rubio (R-FL), Cardin (D-MD) and Collins (R-ME) on provisions to assist small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis.