BBB Upstate says be on the lookout for Coronavirus scams
As concerns over the spread of coronavirus increase, the Better Business Bureau of the Upstate is warning consumers about emails, social media posts and websites pushing products that purportedly prevent or “cure” the virus.
“These emails and websites contain a lot of information about an amazing product, and typically will include testimonials or a conspiracy theory backstory,” said Vee Daniel, President & CEO. “One scam email, claims that the government has discovered a vaccine for coronavirus but is keeping it secret for security reasons.”
The Federal Trade Commission has issued warning letters to several companies claiming they had a product to cure or prevent the virus.
Currently there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent coronavirus, although treatments are in development. No approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for coronavirus can be purchased online or in stores.
CDC impersonators and fake fundraisers
In addition to peddling coronavirus cures, other scam artists are impersonating the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization in phishing emails, Daniel said. These messages claim to have news about the disease and prompt readers to download malicious software.
Some seniors around the country have reported receiving telephone calls where the caller states that they should be taking supplements from the government for the Coronavirus, and offered it for purchase.
Another scam email tries to con people into donating to a fake fundraising effort, claiming to be a government program to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
How to spot a coronavirus con
- You can spot a fraudulent health product by watching out for these red flags:
- Be skeptical of alarmist and conspiracy theory claims and don’t rush into buying anything that seems too good – or too crazy – to be true. Always double check information you see online with official news sources.
- Be wary of personal testimonials and “miracle” product claims.
- Be suspicious of products that claim to immediately cure a wide range of diseases. No one product could be effective against a long, varied list of conditions or diseases. Also, testimonials are easy to make up and are not a substitute for scientific evidence.
- It’s “all natural.” Just because it’s natural does not mean it’s good for you. All natural does not mean the same thing as safe.
If you’re tempted to buy an unproven product or one with questionable claims, check with your doctor or other healthcare professional first.
If you’ve spotted a scam, report it via the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker to help others avoid falling victim to scams.