Man, 39, faces 20 years in prison ‘for attempting to sell 125 million nonexistent face masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs worth $750M’
- Christopher Parris, of Georgia, was arrested and charged with wire fraud Friday
- Parris, 39, is accused of trying to sell nonexistent personal protective equipment
- AG William Barr said Parris tried to sell PPE to Department of Veterans Affairs
- The nonexistent equipment totaled $750million, Barr said in his statement
- Parris could face up to 20 years behind bars, according to a criminal complaint
A Georgia man could face up to 20 years behind bars for attempting to sell nonexistent personal protective equipment (PPE) worth $750million to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Christopher Parris, 39, was arrested on Friday after he allegedly made a series of fraudulent misrepresentations to secure orders from Veterans Affairs for 125 million face masks and other PPE, according to a statement from Attorney General William Barr.
A complaint alleges that Parris promised that he could obtain millions of genuine 3M masks from domestic factories ‘when he knew that fulfilling the orders would not be possible’.
Christopher Parris, 39, was arrested on Friday after he allegedly made a series of fraudulent misrepresentations to secure orders from the Department of Veterans Affairs for 125 million face masks, according to a statement from Attorney General William Barr (pictured)
Parris also made similar false representations to other entities in an effort to enter into other fraudulent agreements to sell PPE to state governments, authorities said.
‘We will vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money,’ Barr said.
‘As this case demonstrates, even beyond the typical costs associated with unlawful behavior, COVID-19 scams divert government time and resources and risk preventing front-line responders and consumers from obtaining the equipment they need to combat this pandemic.
‘The Department of Justice will not tolerate this conduct, especially when it involves this kind of egregious attempt to target and defraud our nation’s treasures – our veterans,’ Barr added.
PPE like face masks, gloves and gowns have been hard to come by in the US where there are more than 550,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 21,700 deaths.
After his arrest on Friday, Parris appeared before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, where he was ordered detained.
PPE equipment, which includes face masks, gloves and gowns, have been extremely limited as health care workers(file image) are on the front lines aiding COVID-19 patients
Authorities said Parris will be extradited to Washington,DC, but it’s unclear when that will occur.
‘During this time of crisis, fraud or attempted fraud impacting services for veterans, who have selflessly served this country, is unconscionable,’ said US Attorney Timothy Shea for the District of Columbia.
‘My office will devote whatever resources are necessary to stop scams aimed at exploiting Americans during this unprecedented pandemic.’
Parris has been charged with wire fraud. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.