Protect Yourself from Pandemic Scammers
Q: What are some of the most common fraud schemes you’re seeing?
One of the most prevalent schemes we’re seeing is government impersonators. Criminals are reaching out to people through social media, emails, or phone calls pretending to be from the government. In some cases, they’re even going door-to-door to try to convince someone that they need to provide money for COVID testing, financial relief, or medical equipment.
We are a very trusting society, but it’s important to know that the government will not reach out to you this way. If someone reaches out to you directly and says they’re from the government helping you with virus-related issues, it’s likely a scam. This “government” representative may be trying to use phishing or other techniques to hack your computer or get your personal information or money.
Fraudulent Cures or Medical Equipment
Right now, the threat we’re most concerned about is fake cures or treatments for the virus. These “cures” can be extremely dangerous to your health—even fatal. You should never accept a medical treatment or virus test from anyone other than your doctor, pharmacist, or local health department.
People who are at home and out of work are vulnerable to work-from-home scams. If someone you don’t know contacts you and wants you to urgently pay them in return for a “job,” you are dealing with a criminal. Legitimate jobs will not ask you to pay them.
If you’re in a role like this where you’re being asked to send or move money, you’re acting as a money mule, which is a federal crime.
One of the most lucrative schemes for criminals is offering you an opportunity to invest in a cure or treatment for the virus. The purpose of these get-rich-quick schemes is simply to defraud the investor. Any offer like this should be treated with extreme caution.