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Residents warned of coronavirus scams

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have received reports of suspected scam attempts related to coronavirus.

Coronavirus scams can come in the form of robocalls, emails, or online sellers offering cures, tests, vaccinations, assistance in applying for CARES funds, or offering significant amounts of money to help cover medical costs, business costs, or new business funding.

The people behind these offers may claim to be with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or other government agencies and may claim to have special information or products available.

Residents who receive robocalls should hang up and not press any numbers or answer any questions. Beware of text messages and emails offering cures, information, or financial assistance related to coronavirus. Carefully research requests for donations. Don’t send cash, gift cards, or wire money.

The FTC reported that Americans have lost more than 13.4 million to coronavirus related scams so far this year.  

The FTC offers the following tips to keep scammers at bay:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is up to date.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the Coronavirus, ask yourself: if there’s been a medical breakthrough, would you be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities”. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

For more information on the latest scams, sign up for consumer alerts. Residents can report suspicious claim to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

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