DOJ: People Who Threaten To Spread Coronavirus Will Be Charged With Terrorism
Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) notified federal prosecutors nationwide that people who threaten to spread or attempt to spread coronavirus may be charged with terrorism.
U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen sent out a memo on Tuesday to U.S. attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies that said coronavirus met the statutory definition of a biological agent, NBC News reported.
"Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated," Rosen wrote.
Some states have taken swift action to crack down on people who would try to create more panic in their communities.
In Freehold, New Jersey, 50-year-old George Falcone was charged with harassment and making terrorist threats on Tuesday after he intentionally coughed on a Wegman’s grocery store employee and told them he had coronavirus, NBC News reported.
Additionally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned the public about a rush of scammers looking to make money on the pandemic, NBC News reported.
The agency told people to avoid phony claims to sell coronavirus treatments or tests, and to watch for phishing emails that try to bait consumers into giving up personal information in order to get an airline refund or register for the coronavirus stimulus checks.
"Government agencies are not sending unsolicited e-mails seeking your private information in order to send you money," the FBI explained.
A memo sent to law enforcement agencies warned them to avoid scams selling counterfeit personal protective equipment like masks, NBC News reported.
The FBI said one website check alone "found at least one hundred product listings that were counterfeit or unapproved."
Rosen’s memo also warned that conventional crimes were on the rise as the pandemic grew, including robberies of people leaving hospitals and doctor’s offices, according to NBC News.