March 11, 2020
Carson City, NV - Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford is warning consumers to be alert of scammers looking to take advantage of fear surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) to sell fake products or steal your money or personal information. Fraudsters may use text messages, social media and emails to promote these scams.
Consumers should be cautious of fraudsters using these platforms as a means to raise awareness, asking for victim donations, offering advice on unproven treatments, or sending harmful attachments and links. Scammers may also use crowdfunding websites to promote their false information in an effort to look more legitimate. Consumers should also be on the lookout for bogus products claiming to cure or prevent the virus.
"Nevadans should be assured that your leaders and healthcare providers are working hard every day to keep you safe and healthy," said AG Ford. "In addition to the hygiene precautions Nevadans are encouraged to take, my office reminds you to be cautious of scammers trying to capitalize on your uncertainty. Learn how to protect yourself with these tips and look to my office as a resource."
As with other phishing scams, AG Ford and his Bureau of Consumer Protection offer the following tips to protect your personal information and pockets:
- Avoid clicking on links in emails or messages from people you don't know. These links might download a virus, or redirect to a site that was created to steal your personal information. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date;
- Be wary of emails and posts claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other experts. Up to date information will be provided on the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites;
- Be cautious of online promotions for vaccines, treatments, or cures for coronavirus. If there were a medical breakthrough, it would not be advertised for the first time through a sales pitch; and
Conduct research before donating to charities or crowdfunding websites. Do not be rushed into making a donation. Be particularly on guard for those asking for donations through wire transfer, gift card or exclusively cash.
Relatedly, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned investors to be aware of fraudsters offering an investment opportunity with alleged publicly traded companies that promote services or products claiming to prevent, detect or cure coronavirus. The promotions may take the form of a "research report" and make predictions that the stocks will increase in value as a result. These stocks may take the form of microcap stocks, which are typically only used by small companies. Before investing in any company or sending money, the SEC cautions you to do your research.
For information on the status of coronavirus as well as resources, visit the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services website and the Federal Trade Commission website. If you believe you have been a victim related to these or any other scams, you may file a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General here, or with the Federal Trade Commission on its website.