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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, many criminals are seizing upon people’s fear surrounding the health crisis and using it to scam victims out of their hard-earned money. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office is aggressively investigating and prosecuting these offenders, but we need your help.
If you are a victim or attempted victim of any COVID-related scams, contact the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s COVID-19 Financial Crimes Strike Force by calling 631-853-4232.
We urge residents to be vigilant about these types of scams. Make sure you verify that the person contacting you is legitimate before providing any personal information, including bank account or credit card information, or other personally identifying information such as Social Security Numbers. If you are unsure of whether someone who has reached out to you is legitimate, verify the information by looking for an official contact number or email address on the entity’s website and call the person back.
Testing, Treatment, and Medical Supplies Scams: Scammers are selling fake at-home test kits, cures, vaccines and other unproven treatments or fake medical supplies for COVID-19. Supplies may be counterfeit or non-existent and never delivered to the consumer.
Charity Scams: Criminals are soliciting donations through the creation of fraudulent charities, then stealing funds meant for individuals, groups and areas affected by COVID-19.
Investment Scams: These include online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.
Government Stimulus: Law enforcement has identified several fraudulent claims for and schemes pertaining to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Fraudsters may call or send a text or email claiming to be from the government and requesting personal identifying information before the stimulus check can be released. Visit the IRS' website to check the status of your Economic Impact Payment.
Fake Medical Billing: People are being contacted by phone and email by individuals pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.
Phishing: Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
App scams: Scammers are also creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
Price Gouging: Unscrupulous sellers are marking up prices for goods and services necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of consumers, including hand sanitizers and other disinfecting products, toilet paper and basic food items.
To report COVID-19 scams outside of Suffolk County, contact the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud by calling 1-877-720-5721 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
New York Attorney General's Office's Guidance on Coronavirus Resources and Warnings about Consumer Scams
Suffolk County Police Department's Online Crime Reporting Tool
IRS' Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments