Beware Coronavirus Scammers
No, this is not a reference to private sellers on Amazon asking $22.00 for a single container of 75-ct Lysol wipes or the few rogue individuals/businesses that will triple the sale price of toilet paper this weekend. This post is about the more sophisticated degenerates that will take a knee from selling your grandmother a reverse subprime adjustable rate mortgage over the telephone this month to chase a more short-lived (we hope!) opportunity.
The Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration all released public warnings about scams involving bad actors looking to profit from the fear and uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus.
On March 6, 2020, DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned individuals to remain vigilant for phishing emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to seeking “trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.” DHS cautions the public to continue to exercise good cyber hygiene practices such as the following: (1) not clicking on links from unsolicited emails; (2) leave attachments from unknown emails unopened (even if the attachment looks like an ordinary word or PDF file); (3) do not provide personal or financial information to any entity in response to an email; (4) confirm a charity’s 501(c)(3) status with the IRS online; and (5) rely on well-established or government websites for news and prevention information.
The FTC further advises consumers to confirm that all anti-virus software updates are installed, be suspicious of text messages from unknown numbers (especially those containing a link), and to ignore online offers and advertisements for vaccinations, treatments, and prevention measures. The FDA reiterates that there are “no approved vaccines, drugs or ingestible products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.”
The FTC and the FDA issued stern warnings to seven sellers of “unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.” On March 9, 2020, the FTC identified the sellers of these "misbranded" products online:
· Vital Silver
· Aromatherapy Ltd.
· GuruNanda, LLC
· Vivify Holistic Clinic
· Herbal Amy LLC
· The Jim Bakker Show
On February 4, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission cautioned investors about online promotions through social media for publicly-traded companies researching cures for Coronavirus and promising huge investment returns. Anyone seeing such promotions, especially those involving “microcap stocks” are encouraged to send tips into https://www.sec.gov/tcr.