NewsWorldTexas man sentenced to 15 months in prison for...

Texas man sentenced to 15 months in prison for posting a covid-19 hoax on social media

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(CNN) – A Texas man was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for spreading a COVID-19-related hoax on his social media, prosecutors said.

Evidence showed that Christopher Charles Perez, 40, posted two threatening messages on Facebook in April 2020, falsely claiming that he paid someone infected with covid-19 to “lick items at grocery stores in the San Antonio to scare people, “said the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas. it’s a statement on Monday.

The ruling found Pérez guilty of two counts of violating a federal law that criminalizes false information and deception related to biological weapons, prosecutors said.

The Southwest Texas Fusion Center (SWTFC) received an online notice on April 5, 2020 of a screenshot of the post, and the FBI in San Antonio investigated the matter, according to the press release.

“The threat was false. Pérez did not pay anyone to intentionally spread the coronavirus in grocery stores, based on investigators and what Pérez himself said,” prosecutors said in the press release.

Pérez’s attorney did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The risk of messages on social networks about covid-19

Pérez’s made-up social media posts came at a time when Covid-19 had just started to spread widely in the U.S., shutting down many non-essential businesses and changing lives across the country and around the world.

In addition to the 15-month prison sentence, Pérez must also pay a $ 1,000 fine, prosecutors said.

“Trying to scare people by threatening to spread dangerous diseases is no joking matter,” US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff said in the news release.

The US Department of Justice created the COVID-19 Fraud Control Task Force last May to combat fraud related to the pandemic.

– CNN’s Raja Razek contributed to this report.

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