Beware of Frauds and Scams
The following is based on information from Deputy Ron Kesner, Orange County TRIAD Coordinator, Orange County Sheriff’s Office (540) 672-1536. He cites the Virginia Attorney General’s Office as his source.
There has been an increase in scams across the state. You should be skeptical of anyone raising money during this time.
You may receive an email from the CDC, the WHO or other official organization, asking you to click on a link or to pay for information. Please do not act on any of these emails. No organization will ask you to pay for COVID-19 information or ask you to click on a link for any reason. If you are contacted and asked for personal information in order to get government funds, medications, participate in drug trials, or to buy a test or receive a cure, these are all emerging scams.
Use the Resources links below to investigate if something is legitimate before you act. Please be prudent before you act on anything. Talk to friends, call law enforcement, or investigate on the web to determine if what has been presented to you is legitimate.
Types of Frauds and Scams
Frauds and scams can be found in the form of an email, text message, phone call - just like so many of the “regular” scams typically encountered. The following are emerging scams:
Links from Purported Official Sources (Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, government agencies).
Charity Scams. Raising money for: affected workers/businesses, vaccine research, medical expenses, medical supplies (e.g., masks).
Prevention/Testing/Cure Scams. There is currently no cure for COVID-19 or any drug that prevents it. Beware of tests being sold, as there is no FDA-approved test available for the general public. Cases of bulk “tests” purchased from overseas and sold by scammers are not FDA-approved.
Government Stimulus Scams: No checks/payments have been released yet. Beware of people calling to get personal information/bank account numbers in order to “release the funds.” Once any stimulus funding is approved, the IRS will NOT call or email to verify banking information.
Beware of spreading unverified information – do some homework and verify information.
Price gouging has skyrocketed across the country. The Virginia Post-Disaster Anti-Price Gouging Act prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices for necessary goods and services” during a 30-day period following a declared state of emergency (e.g., water, ice, food, cleaning products, hand sanitizers, medicine, personal protective equipment). Test: Check if a post-disaster price grossly exceeds the price charged for same or similar goods ten days prior.
To report suspected price-gouging, call the Office of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section at 804-786-2116 or fill out a complaint form.
Amazon and other online vendors: Beware of much higher shipping costs. Smaller stores can also price gouge. While not always due to malicious intent, occasionally distributors and wholesalers charge higher prices, passing the cost on to the customer.
U.S. Government Response to the Coronavirus
Coronavirus Scams, What the Federal Trade Commission is Doing
Coronavirus in Virginia. General Government Updates
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
Virginia Poverty Law Center - Evictions – 1-833-663-8428
State Corporation Commission - Utility Concerns – 804-371-9967
Better Business Bureau Charity Navigator
*Please be patient as agencies triage concerns during an influx of calls*