Justice Department officials announced today anyone attempting to spread COVID-19 will be charged with acts of terrorism. The news comes as various groups across the country have encouraged spreading COVID-19 to American citizens.
Following a crash on Sunday in Chicago, a 21-year-old Anthony Ponzi was arrested and taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston after allegedly coughing on police officers. The man allegedly told officers he was infected with coronavirus while slurring his speech and foaming at the mouth, Chicago Police said.
The man later told the staff at the hospital he didn’t have the virus.
Ponzi was scheduled in Court on Monday.
“Threats or attempts to use COVID-19 as a weapon against Americans will not be tolerated,” the Justice Department said in a memo earlier today. This news follows a rapid increase in scammers trying to make a quick buck off the pandemic with cases offering phony treatments, virus testing and PPE fraud emails being seen on all corners of the Internet.
In a memo sent by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on Tuesday afternoon to U.S. attorneys and federal law enforcement agencies, COVID-19 meets the definition of a biological agent that could bring crimes related to it under terrorism statutes.
“Government agencies are not sending unsolicited e-mails seeking your private information,” the FBI said after phishing e-mails have been discovered looking for users’ personal information to receive an economic stimulus check.
A rise in fake PPE has also occurred in recent months dating as far back as December with many with victims claiming sellers have cited a buyer’s shipment delay ‘due to the virus.’