Tips from the FBI
Government impersonators are among the most common forms of Covid-19 fraud. They attempt to induce people to pay them for phony coronavirus testing or other services, which they do not deliver. And while they typically reach out via emails and phone calls, some are going door to door.
Stick to health providers who are established in your community. This includes your doctor, hospital, pharmacist and local health department. Fake treatments are the crime of greatest concern, one official said, because victims risk more than money: The “cure” may be dangerous to their health.
Working from home—or seeking work from home—creates potential targets. The FBI cautions that individuals who are at home and jobless are especially vulnerable to “work-from-home” scams. These days, of course, millions of people fall into this category. Beware if a stranger requests that you pay them for some unexpected service. In one work-from-home scam, the criminal may ask you to help store or move their money. They sometimes ask people to allow a bank transfer to flow through their account. Such activity is likely a federal crime, however, and you are being asked to serve as a money mule.
Don’t fall for get-rich-quick schemes based on profiting from the coronavirus. Investment scams have cropped up to lure would-be investors with phony claims about products that pretend to detect, prevent, or cure Covid-19. These pitches may be found within “research reports” about low-priced stocks that are poised to soar in value, according to DOJ. But the details are simply cooked up to make worthless products look like a great opportunity.
The investment schemes are yet one more ruse designed to take advantage of the public during the pandemic and exploit human frailties. Rising joblessness and financial pressures caused by Covid-19 have increased many people’s need for money and in some cases led to downright desperation.
Please remember: We all must use our best judgment through this difficult time.
Watch out for scammers, because they may be watching you—and yours.