The Unscrupulous Are Preying on People’s Fears of COVID-19
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, on April 15, 2020, issued a warning to Orange County’s citizens to be on the lookout for scams related to the current Coronavirus outbreak. Since the crisis began, many people have been taken in by fraudulent claims or offers of goods and services, supposedly meant to assist in dealing with COVID-19.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, some of those scams include:
• Offers of Checks. Texts, emails, or phone calls may offer to provide you with a check, as part of the COVID-19 response, but, in reality, the scammer is seeking some form of personal information from you, or to infect your computer with malware.
• Offers for Vaccinations or Home Test Kits. At present, nothing has been shown to be effective in treating or preventing COVID-19, and any offer of such a product is fraudulent.
• “Robocalls.” Scammers are using electronic calling to offer fraudulent products such as insurance or various work-at-home schemes.
• Emails Claiming to be From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). Emails saying that they are from those organizations may be attempts to get you to provide personal information to the scammer or to infect your computer.
• Donations. Many scammers are setting themselves up as charitable organizations, seeking donations for those who work against the virus.
• Offers of Products. Some scammers are offering reduced-rate products, which are never delivered.
Citizens should be cautious of any post on social media having to do with the coronavirus outbreak. False claims in those postings are frequently used as the means to draw in unsuspecting victims. In short, citizens should beware of any contact that offers to provide them with assistance against the pandemic. As usual, if you did not solicit an offer, you should ignore it, and you should keep your computer’s security software up-to-date.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has warned that some scammers have been taking advantage of information from high school graduates posting their photographs and year-book entries on the internet. Some of that personal information can be used by scammers to answer security questions to help them gain unauthorized access to online accounts.
“Unfortunately, the same type of scammers who hope to enrich themselves by preying on the vulnerable in every crisis are also at work now,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “COVID-19 created an unprecedented disruption to our lives which has caused many, particularly seniors, to use the internet in ways they are not accustomed to. We must be more cautious than ever about unsolicited offers that will supposedly help us or others through the pandemic. As always, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you believe you are the victim of a crime contact law enforcement.”