SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced Tuesday the creation of a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fraud Task Force.
According to officials the new task force, which will include federal and state prosecutors, will work to protect the citizens of Georgia from criminal fraud arising as a result of the pandemic.
“Our office has received hundreds of complaints regarding scams, price gouging and other issues related to the COVID19 pandemic, and we won’t tolerate those who are taking advantage of consumers and interfering with our frontline workers’ response to the crisis,” said Attorney General Chris Carr.
Officials ask the public to be on the lookout for any of these COVID-19 scams, which can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address email@example.com:
- Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake vaccines, medicines and cures for COVID-19.
- Supply scams: Scammers are claiming they have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, health and medical supplies, but when an order is placed, the scammer takes the money and never delivers the order.
- Charity scams: Scammers are fraudulently soliciting donations for non-existent charities to help people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Scammers often use names that are similar to the names of real charities.
- Phishing scams: Scammers, posing as national and global health authorities, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending fake emails or texts to trick the recipient into sharing their personal information like account numbers, Social Security numbers, or login IDs and passwords.
- App scams: Scammers are creating COVID-19 related apps that contain malware designed to steal the user’s personal information after it is downloaded.
- Provider scams: Scammers pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demand payment for that treatment.
- Investment scams: Scammers are promoting the stock of small companies, which have limited publicly available information, using false or misleading claims that the companies’ stock will increase dramatically due to the COVID-19 outbreak, such as claims that a company can prevent, detect or cure COVID-19.
The Consumer Protection Division (CPD) of the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia has received more than 600 complaints of price gouging or scams related to COVID-19, the majority regarding food, toilet paper, water and hand sanitizer. The public can file complaints with the CPD by calling 800-869-1123 or consumer.ga.gov.