Beware of Coronavirus Scams

Updated: Apr 20

On April 17, 2020 Attorney General Letitia James announced an initiative started in March to remove websites that are illegally profiting off of coronavirus related donations and selling, marketing, and promoting fraudulent goods and services.

If you believe you have been a victim of a website-related COVID-19 scam:

Report it immediately to the OAG’s Bureau of Internet and Technology

File a complaint online on the FTC site

File an online report with Suffolk County PD

Report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline: 866-720-5721

On March 24, 2020, FEMA started a coronavirus rumor page designed to dispel misinformation. Here is a link.

On March 20, 2020, the FBI issued a warning about coronavirus scams. Link.

"Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits."

People should be highly skeptical of emails and websites that purport to provide information or goods related to the ongoing pandemic. Always confirm the information is from a primary source, such as a government website (.gov).

There have been many reports of phishing emails being sent to people, some of which are attempting to spread misinformation, are phishing scams and pushing malware. Do not open emails about coronavirus from unknown senders.

Some "real-time" maps being posted online are laced with malware. Once again, use legitimate government and well-known news sources for this type of information.

Updated information on scams may be found on the FTC Consumer Website.

Attorney General Letitia James has also posted information and tips on the Attorney General's website.

Some Scams to Be Aware of:

Fake Home Testing Kits

Federal authorities warned consumers about fake home-testing kits for the coronavirus after customs agents intercepted a package at Los Angeles International Airport filled with vials labeled as COVID-19 test kits.

In the news:

Mask Scams

The Better Business Bureau warns that people are selling low quality, counterfeit masks. In some cases, some online retailers are taking your money but not even sending the masks, and there have been reports of these fake vendors stealing credit card information.

Healthcare workers and others with access to medical grade masks can use them for self-protection, but masks being sold online and in stores (when available) to the general public are not of this high-grade quality.

In the news:

Cures and Resistance Scams

There have been reports that scammers have used this time to target those wanting to help those in need. The largest scam to date is promoting coronavirus cures, vaccines, and pills. Government officials remind residents there are no vaccines, pills or any over the counter products to prevent or cure the virus.

In the news:

PSEG Impersonation Scam

Residential and small business customers have reported receiving threatening phone calls from individuals claiming to be PSEG Long Island employees. Payment is demanded within hours using a pre-paid debit card. They are also sending email scams and having some imposters knock on doors. If you receive a visit, always ask for the worker's PSEGLI employment card.

In the news:

Phishing and Email Scams

Three methods of scamming have now caught the eyes of the Secret Service: phishing, social engineering, and non-delivery. The public should make sure to only open emails from a legitimate source. Don't open emails from people you don't know, or check the email address before you open it. If it comes from an unusual looking email address, such as a .com from a 'government agency,' don't open it. All federal and state government agencies, use .gov extensions. Suffolk County does as well.

In the news:

In general:

DO NOT click on phishing emails, links, or attachments you don’t recognize; hackers maybe be able to access your personal information if you click, open, or log in to a fake page. You may receive emails from fraudulent accounts impersonating official websites or doctors. For example, an email will come from @CDC-GOV.ORG vs. the official email sender of @CDC.GOV. Make sure you hover over the link to verify the URL & domain name (Uniform Resource Locator).

IGNORE fraudulent online offers claiming they are selling COVID-19 knockoff products, cures or treatments. At this time, per CDC, there is no vaccine for coronavirus. There are scammers claiming they are selling the “N95” respirator face masks vs. regular surgical masks, or hand sanitizer that is 60% alcohol. Please purchase from businesses you trust.

BE AWARE of fraudulent fundraising campaigns or donation requests for cash, gift cards, and credit cards. There are scammers seeking contributions via emails or going door to door. At this time, CDC is not sending persons door to door for cash or soliciting donations through bitcoin or PayPal.

The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office is an Accredited Law Enforcement Agency


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