COVID-19 pandemic leads to fraud concerns

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) The COVID-19 pandemic is not only creating health and safety concerns but also fraud and crime concerns.

Federal, state and local law enforcement are warning residents to be on alert for those individuals who are trying to profit from the pandemic.

Eyewitness News spoke to officials from all levels of law enforcement. They all had the same message for residents. While you are keeping yourself safe, there are others who are trying to steal your money!

According to David Freed, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, he COVID-19 pandemic has many people thinking about the health and safety of themselves and their families which theives may pray on.

“It’s the same sort of scam using COVID-19 as the basis,” Freed said.

Freed says these scammers realize that many people may be preoccupied with COVID-19 and they may more easily fall victim to a scam.

“Folks that are using robocalls to make fraudulent offers to sell respirators and masks. False apps that if you give certain information will install malware on your computer and phishing emails for money,” said Freed.

“They are taking advantage of the vulnerability of people who are scared and they are falling for this,” said Stefanie Salavantis, the Luzerne County District Attorney.

Salavantis mentioned one scam that is particularly disturbing.

“You have people calling saying they are hospital personnel and that they may have tested positive for coronavirus because someone they know had gotten it. So if you want to get a test please provide your credit card information,” Salavantis said.

Both prosecutors offer this advice.

“You know I put something out this morning just reminding people to not share financial or personal information unless it’s with someone or some business you trust,” said Freed.

Law enforcement officials say these scammers are persistent. It’s a numbers game. The more people they can contact, the odds increase that someone will fall prey to their con.

US Attorney David Freed urges anyone who has information on a COVID-19 scam to report it.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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