Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks it’s funny to spread fear.

A press release from the United States Department of Justice said that in April of 2020, 40-year-old Christopher Charles Perez, aka Christopher Robbins of San Antonio had the bright idea to go on Facebook and claim that he had paid someone with COVID-19 to go around licking items in grocery stores in the San Antonio area.

Someone who saw the post took a screenshot and sent it to the Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC), who then contacted the FBI. The FBI investigated the claim and figured out that Perez, by his own admission, did not pay someone to attempt to spread COVID-19 in grocery stores.

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Of course, law enforcement doesn’t take that sort of hoax lightly and will prosecute those who attempt to spread fear to the fullest extent of the law. As a result, Perez was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison and was fined $1,000.

FBI San Antonio Division Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs said anyone who commits such a hoax will be held accountable:

Those who would threaten to use COVID-19 as a weapon against others will be held accountable for their actions, even if the threat was a hoax. Perez’s actions were knowingly designed to spread fear and panic and today’s sentencing illustrates the seriousness of this crime. The FBI would like to thank our law enforcement partners for their help in this case.

I’m guessing Perez thought that was a pretty funny thing to do at the time. He’s clearly not laughing now.

If you have information regarding fraud involving COVID-19, contact the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721. You can also submit a report online at this location.

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