TULSA, Oklahoma - People who are intentionally spreading and infecting others with the COVID-19 virus could face federal terrorism charges.

U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said the Department of Justice is working to stop coronavirus-related fraud and hold people accountable who are infecting others on purpose.

Federal terrorism threat charges were filed against a Pennsylvania man after police said a man who claimed he had COVID-19 intentionally coughed on an elderly man who was recovering from pneumonia inside a grocery store.

Shores said anyone purposefully infecting others with the virus in Oklahoma could face the same charges.

"What we're seeing is that it's quite possible that the coronavirus mutually fits the definition of biological weapon potentially under the federal terrorism statues," said Shores.

He said like all charges, it would need to be proven in court.

"So, if someone is out there purposefully infecting others, whether it's coughing on someone or infecting something that they then give to another person - that it's just despicable. I think it's also criminal and we're going to hold them accountable," said Shores.

Shores said the sentencing would vary by each case depending on previous criminal history.