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Sen. Casey warns of 'outrageous' coronavirus scams that 'capitalize on public anxiety'

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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, ranking member of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, is warning consumers to beware of new coronavirus scams.

With millions of Americans under nationwide mandates to stay home, scam artists are using this as an opportunity to use robocalls to contact unsuspecting consumers, including seniors, in attempts to swindle them out of their money, as well as peddle fraudulent products, the Pennsylvania Democrat said.

“It is outrageous that scammers are seeking to capitalize on the public anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic to prey on the public, especially seniors,” he said. “I urge Pennsylvanians to help me get this message out: beware of coronavirus-related scams and take caution before handing over money or giving out personal identifiable information. Scammers are continuously updating their tactics to find new ways to trick consumers so it is imperative that all individuals, particularly older adults, are armed with information to prevent them from falling victim to a con artist.”

Pennsylvania State Police also issued a warning about scams two weeks ago.

Consumers should beware of products fraudulently marketed as a “vaccine” or “cure” for COVID-19, Casey said. Other reported scams include emails impersonating reputable organizations, like the World Health Organization, in an attempt to steal personal identifiable information. And, with the federal government preparing to send cash payments to help Americans weather the pandemic’s financial effects, con artists may pretend they are representing the government in attempt to collect a “fee” that they claim is needed prior to receiving a payment, according to Casey.

Earlier this month, Casey sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission and a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, concerning coronavirus-related scams and requesting information on each agency’s actions to prevent misinformation about the coronavirus. This week, Casey also sent a letter to the FTC inquiring about the agency’s efforts to protect seniors from coronavirus-related scams.

The FTC maintains a webpage with information on tips to avoid becoming a victim of any of the various coronavirus scams. If you receive a suspicious call or email related to the coronavirus, do not engage, and immediately contact the Aging Committee’s toll-free Fraud Hotline at 855-303-9470, Casey said.

Read more from the FTC on coronavirus scams here.

Read the letters to the FTC here and here.

Read the letter to the FDA here.