ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- An Atlanta resident is behind bars after being accused of trying to sell 125 million coronavirus face masks that did not exist. 

Officials say Christopher Parris committed wire fraud when he attempted to finalize the $750 million deal with the VA.

“You’ve heard people talk about this being a war of sorts and if it’s a war then this guy has basically committed treason,” said veteran Michael Owens who is also a cyber security expert.

According to information released from the Justice Department, Parris attempted to sell millions of nonexistent respirator masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs in exchange for a large upfront payment.

“During times of crisis and chaos people look to try to take advantage of the system wherever they can, so when I saw this, I was just like yeah this is exactly one of these opportunities that we know unscrupulous people will take advantage and just try to defraud”, added Owens.

Parris has been charged wire fraud for allegedly sending a series of fraudulent misrepresentations in an attempt to secure orders from the department of veterans affairs for 125 million face masks and other personal protective equipment totaling more than $750 million.

But Owens, who is also running for US Congress Georgia’s 13 congressional district, says they have seen other attempt to profit from the pandemic.

“Since the coronavirus has really taken off here in the United States we’ve seen an uptick in cyber security threats and attacks that have been launched not only against American companies but individuals,” said Owens.

The Department of Justice says they are on the lookout for other coronavirus scams and are asking the public to report suspected fraud. As for Parris, he could face 20 years in jail if found guilty.

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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