People Keep Falling For This COVID-19 Scam

The FBI’s San Diego office said Monday on Twitter that scammers are texting about offers of “goodies” from big box chain Costco, saying it’s part of a COVID-19 “stimulus package” for the store’s “loyal customers.”

“Capitalizing on this crisis to reap illicit profits or otherwise preying on Americans is reprehensible and will not be tolerated.” – Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen 

April 2, 2020

Coronavirus scams include Costco ‘stimulus check’ ploy, FBI warns

Fox News – As Americans await much-needed stimulus checks from the coronavirus bill that President Trump signed last week, federal authorities are warning of a new scam targeting people already wary about the pandemic.

The FBI’s San Diego office said Monday on Twitter that scammers are texting about offers of “goodies” from big box chain Costco, saying it’s part of a COVID-19 “stimulus package” for the store’s “loyal customers.”

Federal law enforcement has warned in recent weeks of a rise in fraud schemes as the outbreak rockets across the nation.

“Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both,” FBI Special Agent Davene Butler said in a statement.

The latest scheme boasts a $100 “bounty” or $110 in “goodies” from Costco.

A fraudulent text message that has been sent around boating of a “stimulus check” for Costco customers.

“The FBI is warning the public that Costco is NOT texting (or using social media platforms) the public or its customers to provide a ‘stimulus check,’ ‘freebies,’ or a ‘stimulus package,'” the FBI San Diego office said Monday. “These messages, containing a malicious link, are a SCAM. Do NOT click on the link.”

The links included in the messages contain malware, ransomware or other fraudulent methods to steal identity, financial or other personal information, according to federal officials.

In recent weeks, the FBI also warned about emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other organizations offering information on the virus.

There also are websites and apps that claim to track COVID-19 cases worldwide, but aim to steal personal information and money instead.

“Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received,” the FBI said. Read more. 

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Fraud follows coronavirus spread | 

Fake vaccines, testing, investment scams are exacting a toll

April 3, 2020

USA TODAY – For more than a year, a 49-year-old Georgia man allegedly ran a thriving scheme in which he referred patients to medical testing facilities in return for lucrative kickbacks.

Beginning in February, federal prosecutors said, Erik Santos set his sights on a new potential money-maker: the coronavirus.

Santos, according to court documents filed this week in New Jersey, arranged to be paid kickbacks for each COVID-19 test referred when they were bundled with other, more expensive respiratory examinations.

“While there are people going through what they are going through, you can either go bankrupt or you can prosper,” Santos allegedly boasted during a March 19 telephone call, referring to the pandemic. “Everybody has been chasing the Covid dollar bird.”

Indeed, as the deadly virus has spread across the globe and killed more than 5,000 people in the U.S., all manner of criminal schemes, many of them stoking fear and panic, have been taking root in its widening wake.

Authorities in Kentucky have been investigating drive-up testing sites, promising same-day results for $250.

A Texas-based website was offering a coronavirus “vaccine,” until authorities won a restraining order against its operators. In Virginia, telephone scammers, posing as local hospital representatives, warned residents of possible virus exposure and sought to lure them to sham test sites.

“The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic, and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated,” Attorney General William Barr said in a memo to federal prosecutors across the country last month, urging a crackdown on a constellation of schemes targeting the public … Read more. 

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