Other Opinion: Beware of scams involving coronavirus


Whenever something bad is happening in the world, there are people out there who make things worse by trying to make a buck off it – scammers.

Don’t let them do it. Be aware of their tactics. Report them to authorities and tell others in your family and circle of friends to steer clear.

Scams are popping up all over the place in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a warning last week about how scammers are increasingly preying on consumers by attempting to sell them bogus products or unproven treatments, as well as attempting to trick them into revealing their sensitive personal or financial information.

Ellison also encouraged Minnesotans to report any price-gouging related to the COVID-19 crisis to his office.


“As we come together to combat COVID-19, Minnesotans need to be just as vigilant about protecting their pocketbooks from scammers as they are about keeping themselves and their communities healthy,” said Ellison. “My job is to help Minnesotans afford their lives and live with dignity and respect, now more than ever. My office is on high alert to identify and use all our resources to COVID-19-related scams. We need Minnesotans’ help in doing it. I strongly urge anyone who has come across what they think is a scam or believes they’ve been a victim of one to contact my office immediately.”

He added that victims may feel ashamed and don’t want to tell anyone. “But if you tell us, we may be able to help you, and when you tell us, you’ll be helping others,” he said.

Here’s what some scammers are doing that are connected to the pandemic:

  • Setting up websites to sell bogus products, fake COVID-19 vaccines, and other unproven treatments.

  • Using fake emails, texts, and social media posts to deceptively solicit “donations” for victims.

  • Imposter scams where scammers send malicious emails impersonating government agencies such as the CDC in hopes that you will click on a link, and thereby download malicious software that will give the scammer access to your personal or financial information.

Ellison provided the following tips and resources for spotting and avoiding these emerging COVID-19 scams:

  • Don’t click on links from unknown sources. By doing so, you can inadvertently download malicious software or viruses on your computer, which can result in identity theft and exposure of your sensitive personal or financial information. Also, ensure that your computer’s anti-virus software is fully updated.

  • Get updated information directly from relevant governmental agencies. If you are seeking updates about COVID-19 and its impact in Minnesota, get your information directly from the relevant governmental agencies and not from suspect emails, sketchy websites, or social media posts from unknown origins. You can stay informed about COVID-19 by directly visiting the Minnesota Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The Minnesota Department of Health also has a COVID-19 Hotline at 1-800-657-3902.

  • Ignore online offers for “miracle” health products, treatments, or vaccinations. There is currently no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19. Similarly, there are also no FDA-approved pills, lotions, lozenges, or any other prescription or over-the-counter health products available to treat or cure COVID-19. If you see any ads or offers for such products online or in emails, you should ignore them.

  • Do your research before donating to a non-profit or charity. Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a donation to a non-profit, charity, or fundraiser related to COVID-19 and never make a donation by money-wire, paying cash, or purchasing gift cards. Instead, before donating, do your research to determine if the charity is legitimate.

  • Report suspected scams to the Attorney General’s Office. File a complaint online or by calling 1-800-657-3787 (Greater Minnesota).

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