April 9, 2020 / 4:20 AM / 2 months ago

FBI arrests Texas man for coronavirus hoax meant to empty grocery stores

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas man is facing federal charges for allegedly posting on Facebook that he had paid a person with coronavirus to spread the virus in San Antonio-area grocery stores in an attempt to get people to stop shopping.

Federal prosecutors said in a Wednesday statement that Christopher Charles Perez, 39, was arrested by the FBI the previous day and is charged with spreading a hoax related to weapons of mass destruction.

Prosecutors said that Perez’s threat was false - he did not pay anyone with coronavirus to spread the disease.

It was not immediately known if Perez has legal representation.

His arrest came on the same day that police in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas, took 18-year-old Lorraine Maradiaga into custody after she allegedly said on Snapchat that she was intentionally spreading coronavirus.

The Carrollton Police Department said on its Facebook page that Maradiaga was charged with making a terroristic threat.

Calls to Carrollton police were not returned and it was not immediately known if Maradiaga had legal representation.

Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Alistair Bell

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