Legislation would significantly increase penalties for scammers taking advantage of coronavirus crisis
New York State Sen. Chris Jacobs is proposing legislation to dramatically increase the penalties against anyone who commits a scam by taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis.
“Unfortunately, at a time when people are afraid for their lives and the lives of their loved ones, we have unscrupulous people and businesses who would take advantage of this crisis to price-gouge and steal money from unwitting victims,” Jacobs said. “I want to send a strong message to either deter these criminals or make sure they pay dearly for these heartless acts.”
Countless stories have been reported of COVID-19 scams, such as price gouging of PPE (personal protective equipment), online scams regarding federal stimulus checks, and even offering fake COVID-19 test kits. Jacobs’ legislation could add as much as an additional year in jail time for a criminal act of a COVID-19 scam, and fines for civil violations could double or even triple in some cases.
“There are few things more despicable than preying on frightened, vulnerable and sick people during a crisis like this,” Jacobs said. “I hope these increased penalties will deter criminals from even initiating a COVID scam, but it they do the crime this legislation makes sure they pay a severe price.”