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COVID-19 Related Scams

Scammers use public health emergencies as opportunities for new fraud schemes. Older adults are at greater risk for serious illness from COVID-19 and are often targeted in COVID-19 scams. Following are just a few of the current scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Contact Tracer:

Scammers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers are calling and claiming to be with the local health department. They say you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. They then request personal information and may ask for your Social Security number, Medicare number, insurance number, and credit card or bank account number. Legitimate contact tracers will not ask for your insurance or financial information. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.

COVID-19 Prevention Pill and Cure:

This scam solicits investments in a company that pushes pills and cures, claiming they can cure patients within two to three days. A scammer posted a video on an Instagram account showing himself taking the pill and then walking into an area with COVID-infected individuals stating that he would not get the virus.

The FDA has not approved a vaccine for COVID-19 and although there may be treatments for symptoms, there is no “cure.” However, scammers are using fear-based tactics to convince people that a vaccine or cure is now available.

Vaccines, treatments and products:

Scammers are sending emails which promise treatments and products related to the coronavirus. The email directs the victim to click on a link to a website where their identifying information is obtained and compromised. Ignore online offers for vaccinations.

Coronavirus Medical Kit:

Operators of a fraud scheme, as published on their website, offered consumers access to World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine kits in exchange for a shipping charge of $4.95, which consumers paid by entering credit card information on the website. Understandably, people are desperate to find solutions to keep their families safe and healthy. Fraudsters are seeking to profit from fear and uncertainty by defrauding consumers and committing identity theft.

Charitable Organizations:

There has been a recent surge in the number of charitable entities around the coronavirus. Many are formed by scammers and are fraudulent, illegitimate and nonexistent. Do not send cash in the mail, gift cards, wire money or Bitcoin. A reputable organization will not pressure you to donate.

Reporting Medicare Fraud: If you think you have spotted fraud, report it right away. ND SMP will help seniors prevent, detect and report Medicare fraud. If you see anything suspicious, contact the ND SMPatndsmp@minotstateu.edu or call 1-800-233-1737 or 701-858-3580. For non-Medicare fraud issues, contact the ND Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-472-2600.

The information provided is intended to be a general summary only. Source of information: Department of Justice News. Justice News. March 22, 2020 and April 9, 2020 publications; U.S. Attorneys. District of New Jersey. News. March 30, 2020.

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