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CBS 58 Investigates: Don't fall for these COVID-19 scams

CBS 58 Investigates: Don’t fall for these COVID-19 scams

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The COVD-19 pandemic is sparking an increase in scams and people are targeting the vulnerable during this crisis. 

The Attorney General directed every U.S. Attorney’s office, including the one here in Milwaukee, to have a coronavirus fraud coordinator to investigate and catch these criminals. U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said tips are already coming in.

"People should be aware that there are individuals and businesses out there that are purporting to sell COVID-19 tests or protective gear like respiratory masks is a common one," Krueger said.

Krueger said before you buy, make sure you are familiar with the vendor.

Already the Department of Justice has shut down scammers claiming to sell a COVID-19 vaccine. Right now there is no vaccine or cure.

"Sad to say but criminals know that when people are afraid that they’re more vulnerable," said Krueger. 

Krueger said you should also watch out for people calling and pretending to be Medicare representatives, offering free tests. If you get a call like that or any call that seems suspicious just hang up. And be cautious of emails related to COVID-19 and don’t click links.—scammers are sending malware and virus.

There are also a lot of scams when it comes to stimulus checks and criminals posing as IRS agents

"They will try to ask you for personal information, they will ask you for bank account information and they’ll be doing this through phone calls, email and through social media," said Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigations Kathy Enstrom.

In reality, the stimulus checks will either be directly deposited in your account or mailed to you. The IRS will not call or email.

"If you receive a check from us, verify that it’s from us and if somebody Is asking you to pay a fee to process the check quicker, that is a scam, we do not do that," Enstrom said. 

If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home though a number of platforms.

Go to:

  • Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov
  • Report it to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov
  • If it's a cyber scam, submit your complaint through https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
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