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Coronavirus Scammers: Lowest of the Low


The lowest kind of scum imaginable, scammers who prey on the fears caused by the coronavirus, are trying to rip off vulnerable Americans, warn federal health investigative authorities.


The Office of the Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today issued the following warning:


"While many Americans are nobly rising to the occasion, sadly, some bad actors are preying on people’s fears for profit, perpetrating fraud schemes, including marketing fake COVID-19 test kits and unapproved treatments through telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits.


"Today, we are releasing a COVID-19 Fraud Alert to warn about several health care fraud scams that harm patients and the federal programs designed to serve them.  This alert has general information about these schemes and how to protect yourself and your community against bad actors."


In its Fraud Alert, OIG said, "These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harms. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill Federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft. If Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test, the beneficiary could be responsible for the cost."


To protect yourself, OIG advises:


  • Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare or Medicaid numbers.

  • Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.

  • Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites.

  • A physician or other trusted healthcare provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing.

  • If you suspect COVID-19 fraud, contact National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline (866) 720-5721 or disaster@leo.gov

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