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Rise in fraud schemes related to coronavirus, FBI says

The FBI wants people to watch out for fake CDC emails, phishing emails, and counterfeit treatments and equipment.


The FBI is warning the public about a rise in schemes related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a PSA released Friday, the FBI said scammers are using the pandemic to steal people’s money and personal information.

"Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus; donating to a charity online or through social media; contributing to a crowdfunding campaign; purchasing products online; or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits," the PSA says.

The FBI said the public should look out for fake CDC emails, phishing emails, and counterfeit treatments and equipment.

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They're advising people to watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus. The FBI said people shouldn’t click links or open attachments they don’t recognize. 

"Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment," the PSA says. "Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received."

People should also beware of phishing emails asking to verify personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. 

"Government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money," the FBI said.

Phishing emails may also claim to be related to:

  • Charitable contributions
  • General financial relief
  • Airline carrier refunds
  • Fake cures and vaccines
  • Fake testing kits

The FBI also wants people to be cautious of anyone selling products that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose, or cure COVID-19.

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“Be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, goggles, full face shields, protective gowns, and gloves,” the FBI said.

The FBI offered these tips to protect yourself from schemes:

  • Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don't recognize.
  • Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in a ".gov" ends in .com" instead).


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