GA to Crack Down on COVID-19 Scams
Businesses can find themselves on the wrong side of the law for making claims that their products or services could help prevent or treat COVID-19.
COVID-19 remains a topic of concern for residents in Georgia and across the United States. Case counts are soaring, and the pandemic continues to create problems. As states work to obtain and administer vaccines, products and services have appeared both locally and on the internet that promise to either prevent or treat the disease. The authorities are cracking down on these products, and companies can face potentially serious criminal charges for making any type of fraudulent claims.
Georgia Businesses Warned Against Making Fraudulent Claims
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc throughout the country in March 2020, people have desperately looked for ways to reduce their risks of contracting the virus. Capitalizing on their fears, items have sprung up both online and in local stores. Some vendors sell vitamins, supplements, and other types of products they claim help reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus, while others make unproven claims regarding over-the-counter treatments. In certain cases, these claims are simply false. In other words, they could prove potentially dangerous to consumers.
According to an August 27, 2020 news report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, authorities are cracking down on these scams. Over the past few months, more than 900 fraudulent products, including COVID-19 home test kits, counterfeit PPE, and self-promoted cure-alls, have been seized by federal authorities. Catering to consumer concerns over the coronavirus certainly seems profitable, as officials have seized more than $7 million worth of proceeds.
Locally, more than a half dozen companies have been issued warnings from agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission to stop making unfounded claims about their products and any impact they could potentially have when it comes to COVID-19. In addition to products sold in stores throughout the state, Georgia State University has recently received funding to help track the sale of fraudulent COVID-19 related products on the internet.
Fraud Charges for COVID-19 Related Products or Services
According to statistics from the Georgia Department of Health, there are close to 700,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the state, with nearly 7,000 new cases added on a daily basis. While it is natural for companies to want to promote their products or services as being helpful in dealing with the illness, they need to be sure not to cross the line and make fraudulent claims.
The Georgia Consumer Protection Division is vigilant in protecting the public against fraud while state laws provide harsh penalties for offenders. In addition to the loss of your reputation and possible sanctions on business licensing, you could also face heavy fines and a potential jail sentence.
Reach Out to Our Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Attorneys
At Zimmerman & Associates, we can help to protect you against fraud charges. To discuss your case, call or contact our Norcross criminal defense attorneys online and request a consultation today.