Daily COVID-19 Scams (April 9)
Additional or new scams related to COVID-19 and/or coronavirus include fraudulent job opportunities, bogus small business grants, smishing scams, impostor utility company warnings, the sale of ineffective chlorine dioxide products, unscrupulous Amazon sellers, CEO and IT email scams, and falsely advertised colloidal silver products. The requested information has been entered into the attached project spreadsheet.
- The Better Business Bureau warns that there is a scam promising earnings of $400 after the targeted individual makes two visits to Walmart, observes employees practicing social distancing guidelines, and then purchases gift cards. The initial check received by the individual is not valid, although banks will initially release the funds. The bank will then request the return of funds from the individual who cashed the check.
- IBM X-Force discovered a scam campaign that is targeting small business owners by using emails that appear to be authentic and issued by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA). The recipients are informed that they are eligible for a small business disaster assistance grant once they complete the online application process. The application process used in the scan is actually identical to the real process used by the SBA. Victims who complete the fraudulent process will unknowingly infect their computer with the "Remcos remote access trojan family."
- NBC Miami reports that cell phone users are receiving text messages warning them to click on a link before driving. The message supposedly contains critical information about COVID-19, but it is actually a smishing type of scam.
- PSEG Long Island warns that impostors are contacting their customers threatening to shut off power if overdue bills are not paid immediately. A significant number of customers are struggling with overdue bills due to COVID-19 related layoffs, and PSEG has pledged not to shut off the electricity of their customers during this pandemic.
- The FDA has submitted a warning letter to a company selling a chlorine dioxide product under the brand name "Miracle Mineral Solution." According to the FDA, there is no clinical evidence indicating chlorine dioxide products are safe and effective for those trying to treat or prevent COVID-19. In fact, numerous serious side effects are possible with exposure to this chemical.
- Amazon has reported that companies are marketing products that promise to treat and prevent COVID-19. This is against Amazon guidelines, but vendors are avoiding Amazon's ability to remove the products from its website by including this language in photos, rather than product descriptions. The Lutos Advanced Hand Sanitizer includes the language "efficient prevention of coronavirus" in a product photo. These false claims are dangerous for consumers.
- Amazon determined that some companies are designing product brands to resemble similar items being sold by reputable companies. This tricks consumers into believing they are buying a product from a seller they trust.
- The CEO Scam, discovered by the Federal Trade Commission, deceives individuals by using an email that appears to be authentic and initiated by the employee's manager or company executive. The email requests that the employee send money immediately due to the COVID-19 crisis.
- The FTC has also uncovered an email scam which tricks the employee into believing they are receiving instructions or assistance from a member of their own Information Technology colleagues.
- Scammers have created websites that mimic the look of well-known companies experiencing a supply issue with popular COVID-19 products. The consumer then provides a credit card number for a purchase transaction that does not truly exist.
- The FTC and FDA have warned consumers that colloidal silver has not been proven to treat or prevent COVID-19. Vital Silver and the Jim Bakker Show have been falsely advertising their products to consumers, and the FTC and FDA have issued a warning to the product manufacturers.