In the past two weeks, our world has turned upside down. Many of the things that we took for granted, such as grocery shopping and going to religious services, going out with – even seeing – friends, are gone or are no longer available to us in a form that we recognize. What helps me keep my faith in humanity is that neighbors and strangers have stepped up to help in ways no one would have imagined before. I like to believe that everyone is good, but there are always a few who see situations such as this as a perfect time to take advantage of or scam others. I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors about a cure for COVID-19 and vaccines or medicines to treat COVID-19 will be ready within days. THIS IS NOT TRUE. There is no cure and no current vaccine or medicine to treat COVID-19.
So don’t believe anyone who tells you any differently right now. For example:
- Recently the FTC and FDA jointly sent seven companies letters who are claiming they have products that help or cure the coronavirus. The companies are: The Jim Bakker Show, Herbal Amy, Inc., N-Ergetics, Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd, GuruNada LLC, and Vivify Holistic Clinic. The products cited in the letters were teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver under names like Silver Solution, Coronavirus Boneset Tea, and Coronavirus Core Tincture.
- Alex Jones, InfoWars radio host, claims that his products (toothpaste, supplements, and creams) can treat coronavirus.
- People receive spam email from scammers telling them they can order face masks or hand sanitizer that will keep them safe from the coronavirus. Instead of getting masks or sanitizer, the person unwittingly reveals sensitive personal and financial information to the scammers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and researchers around the world are working diligently and around the clock, however it will be a year to 18 months before a vaccine is available. Believe it or not, that is very fast. Under “normal” conditions, it would take significantly longer. I’m sure you have checked websites for information, news and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic. BE CAREFUL WHAT WEBSITES YOU CHECK.
Scammers have created websites purporting to be the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC or trusted academic medical centers such as Johns Hopkins University. These sites pretend to offer important information about the virus in an attempt to get potential victims to click on malicious links. For example, scammers have created a website that imitates the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 site. This site has a fake COVID-19 pandemic map. Typically, such links will install malware to steal personal information and attempt to capture login and password credentials. The WHO and the CDC DO NOT randomly email people who are not subscribed to a service. If you were not already receiving emails from these organizations, usually via a listserv, DO NOT OPEN these emails.
Here are the real websites if you want information:
In times like these, many want to donate money to help. There are many legitimate local, national and international charities working to fight this virus and take care of people. But for every legitimate charity, there is a fake charity.
Much as we would like to believe that all people are good and honest, they aren’t. There are imposters who are setting up fake charities and posing as “do gooders”. For example I have seen emails asking for money to create a vaccine for children. DO NOT GIVE MONEY TO AN ORGANIZATION YOU DO NOT RECOGNIZE. Check BBB Wise Giving Alliance
, Charity Navigator
, or GuideStar for a list of legitimate charities.
Below is a list of resources that are maintaining an up-to-date list of potential coronavirus related scams:
Remember – trust your gut – if it seems too good to be true, it usually is.