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Watch out for these coronavirus-related scams targeting Utahns

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com | Posted - Mar. 25, 2020 at 12:45 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the United States, the amount of coronavirus-related scams is also rising, officials say.

Fake emails from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, counterfeit treatments, phishing emails and online ads for products that never get delivered are among the scams affecting people right now.

In general, people should make sure not to open links or attachments in emails from senders you don’t recognize, according to the FBI. Don’t provide personal information to an unsolicited email, call or robocall.

Verify websites by:

  • Checking to make sure the web address is secure, with "https://" in the address bar instead of "http://"; consider manually typing the web address in the search bar.
  • Checking for misspellings in the web address
  • Checking to make sure that a website does not end with an incorrect domain, such as a ".com" domain when it should have a ".gov" domain.

Here’s a roundup of some of the other scams officials are warning against:

Fake CDC emails

Fraudsters are using malicious websites that can steal personal information or lock computers until they receive payment, according to the FBI. People should be wary of emails claiming to come from the CDC and should not click on links or attachments from such emails.

The best way to get information from the agency is to go to its website, www.cdc.gov, or the federal government’s coronavirus website, www.coronavirus.gov.

Other phishing emails

Some phishing emails are circulating right now asking recipients to send personal information in order to receive money from the government. While Congress has been discussing providing payments to U.S. citizens, the government is not sending emails to facilitate this, the FBI said.

Phishing emails may also include information claiming to be related to charitable contributions, general financial relief, airline carrier refunds, fake cures and vaccines, and fake testing kits.

Counterfeit treatment or equipment

Fraudsters may also claim to be selling products that protect against or treat COVID-19. People should be wary of emails selling protective equipment such as face masks, goggles, respirators, hospital gowns or gloves, the FBI said.

Information about such products that have been approved is available at www.cdc.gov/niosh, or from the Food and Drug Administration at www.fda.gov and the Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov.

People can report suspected counterfeit products to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center at www.iprcenter.gov.

Unknown callers contacting businesses

The Better Business Bureau of Northern Nevada and Utah is warning against unknown callers contacting business owners to ask about certain benefits.

In a recent case, a caller with a California phone number called an Ohio business owner and claimed to be representing Ohio’s employment department, the BBB reported.

Text messages promising financial help

Some people have received text messages that provide a fraudulent link that promises financial assistance, according to the BBB.

High-demand items for sale that do not get delivered

The BBB has also noted various cases of high-demand items, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, being listed for sale online that do not get delivered after people have paid for them.

Soliciting money from elderly people

The Utah County Sheriff’s Office also has reported some scams targeting elderly people for money, purportedly to help with the coronavirus crisis.

This won’t happen from a reputable agency, according to the sheriff’s office. If someone calls you asking for money, you can say “no,” Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. If you look up a phone number yourself and then call an organization, that is a much safer route, but you are advised to make sure the organization is reputable first.

People who believe they have been the victim of an internet scam, or who want to report possibly fraudulent or suspicious online activity, can visit www.ic3.gov.

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