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Scammers Prey on Coronavirus Fears &

Post Date:03/06/2020 2:30 PM

SCAMMERS PREY ON CORONAVIRUS FEARS

The below information was provided by the Broward Sheriff's Office

Updated - April 17, 2020:  As fears over COVID-19 (coronavirus) are on the rise, so are scammers who are trying to exploit the situation. From cheap and shoddy merchandise to phishing emails and fake charitable causes, criminals are cashing in on this epidemic.

Spot a Scam

Stimulus Check Scams

  • Beware of scams that may target the federal government stimulus checks. Watch your mailbox if you anticipate receiving an actual check in the mail. Sign up for Informed Delivery from the USPS so you will always know what is in your mailbox.
  • Calls or phishing emails requesting personal identifying information from victims to obtain the stimulus payments.
  • Calls or phishing emails requesting banking information to deposit the stimulus payment (would probably ask for passwords as well).
  • Receiving checks in the mail which turn out to be fraudulent. When deposited, victims will be instructed to send some or most of the money to another account or purchase gift cards.
  •  Fake websites that state they will assist in obtaining the stimulus payment or additional payments.

Fraudulent Claims for COVID-19 Tests or Coronavirus Cures

  • Scams can include social media posts, texts and websites meant to take your personal information and money and infect computers.
  • Think twice before investing in companies who say they are working on a coronavirus cure. Check official sources like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission before being lured into a scam.
  • Watch out for online marketing of vaccinations or products claiming to treat the virus.

Fake Fundraisers or "Informational" Emails

  • Be aware of fake fundraising. Verify the charity is legitimate. If someone wants donations in cash, gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Do not click on unfamiliar links or emails. Phishing emails may mention the coronavirus, medical supplies or claim to be from government, national or local health organizations in order to get users to open the message that unleashes malware.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus.

Always beware of entering personal information into websites.

 

BSO reminds the public to be vigilant and follow these tips:

  • Remember the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Go directly to the IRS.gov for information and questions on your payment.
  • Watch out for scammers who may use text, emails, robocalls, fake social media posts or even bogus websites as a ruse to obtain your personal or financial information. 
  • Never divulge personal or financial information unless you are absolutely sure to whom you are providing information. Criminals will try to lure you into providing your social security number, bank account or passwords and then use that information to gain access to your accounts. 
  • Do not pay anyone who promises to expedite your stimulus check or make an upfront payment to expedite the process. Anyone who tells you to pay by Western Union or Money Gram, or by putting money on a gift card, is a scammer.
  •  Carefully monitor emails claiming to have products or services to help stop the COVID-19 outbreak. Forged emails may appear to be from public institutions including hospitals, designed to lure users to open the message, unleashing malware. 
  • Beware of emails and text messages from senders posing as shipping or delivery companies. If you get an unexpected text message, don’t click on any links. Instead, contact the company using a website or phone number you know is real. 
  • If you receive a phone call from anyone claiming to be a law enforcement official seeking money, refuse the demand and report the threat to your local law enforcement agency immediately.

Beware of anyone calling from the 'Weston Health Department' as there is no such place.  The local health department is the Florida Department of Health in Broward County.  You can find all contact information here.


Price Gouging Hotline 

Report price gouging to the State of Florida Price Gouging Hotline at:  1-866-9NO-SCAM. [1-866-966-7226].


Other Helpful Resources:

Check a Charity (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services)>>
U.S. Department of Justice:  https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus
Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts (IRS):  https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-scams-consumer-alerts
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov. You can also call BSO's non-emergency line at 954-764-4357 (HELP).
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