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Scammers are looking to cash in on COVID-19

Posted at 6:54 AM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 09:54:39-04

PHOENIX — With so many people out of work due to the coronavirus, the promise of extra cash could have some people falling victim to scammers.

Costco has been full of shoppers looking to get their hands on much needed necessities, and now the FBI says scammers are using the company's name in hopes of getting those needing cash to bite.

It comes in the form of a text message saying shoppers can get an extra $100 bounty, or stimulus check from the store. All the shopper has to do is click the link and complete a survey.

"The scammers are extremely creative and they prey on people's anxieties and fears in order for their own personal financial benefit," said Craig Moringiello, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of Cyber & Counterintelligence Matters for the FBI in Phoenix.

ASAC Moringiello says they typically see a spike in scams like this during natural disasters, and as we know the coronavirus is shaping up to be a disaster of a whole new kind.

"They're being very creative in how they package their emails to the public in order for us to be tricked," said Moringiello.

Here's the thing, in this case, Costco is not giving out money and the link could allow scammers access to your personal information. If you get the message, don't click the link and delete it!

Also, be on the lookout for anyone claiming they can get you stimulus money from the federal government.

"There's a lot of talk about how that's going to work, but the government is not sending out unsolicited emails to people asking them to verify their personal information," said Moringiello.

Another scam - counterfeit items and false claims:

The FBI is warning that new ads for products popping up online could appear like the real deal, they could also be putting you in danger.

They say in the last two weeks, a federal court issues a restraining order against a website offering fake coronavirus vaccines from the World Health Organization and arrested a man in Los Angeles claiming he had a pill to cure or treat the virus.

They say before buying anything check with the CDC, guidelines are changing almost every day. If it's an item like a mask, check what markings should or shouldn't be on products.

For example, there will be a product clearly stamped on the front of the mask along with the letters "NIOSH" for the organization that certifies they meet quality standards.