Attorney General Bill Barr at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A Georgia man is facing a wire fraud charge for allegedly trying to sell "millions of nonexistent respirator masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs in exchange for large upfront payments," per a Department of Justice statement.

Details: Christopher Parris, 39, from Atlanta, was arrested Friday on suspicion of attempting to "secure orders from the Department of Veterans Affairs for 125 million face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that would have totaled over $750 million," the DOJ said.

  • The complaint alleges that Parris "promised that he could obtain millions of genuine 3M masks from domestic factories when he knew that fulfilling the orders would not be possible." (The Minnesota-based manufacturer has produced millions of masks amid a surge in demand during the novel coronavirus cases outbreak.)
  • "Parris also allegedly made similar false representations to other entities in an effort to enter into other fraudulent agreements to sell PPE to state governments," the Justice Department said.

What they're saying: Attorney General Bill Barr vowed in a statement to "vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money."

  • "As this case demonstrates, even beyond the typical costs associated with unlawful behavior, COVID-19 scams divert government time and resources and risk preventing front-line responders and consumers from obtaining the equipment they need to combat this pandemic," he said.

What's next: Parris was ordered during an appearance before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Friday to be extradited to the District of Columbia to face his charge.

  • If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Go deeper: Report: DOJ memo advises on "terrorism-related statutes" in coronavirus cases

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

3 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing" and the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus for the achievement, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China