HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania State Police are reminding Pennsylvania residents to remain vigilant against scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
State police said criminals often use current events to help make their scams appear more legitimate, and here are some examples of scams currently circulating:
- Fraudulent fundraising campaigns that claim to collect for the CDC or WHO, or for victims through a crowdfunding site, such as GoFundMe.
- Price gouging on household supplies such as bathroom tissue, hand sanitizer and bleach. Pennsylvania law defines gouging as charging a price over 20 percent of the price charged before the emergency started. Gouging should be reported to the Attorney General’s office.
- Advertisements for supplies that take your money and fail to deliver what was promised.
- Advertisements on social or other media claiming to sell vaccines, cures or tests for COVID-19. State police said some of these “treatments” are dangerous, but all are worthless. It was also noted that there is no known cure or vaccine for COVID-19 and tests must be obtained through a physician or hospital.
- Investment “opportunities” that promise high returns for low risk, or that claim to be a hedge against a volatile market. For more information, please visit https://www.media.pa.gov/pages/banking_details.aspx?newsid=309.
- Phishing e-mails that use fear of COVID-19 to get you to download malware to your computer. State police advise that these e-mails claim to be from the CDC or the WHO and may have an attachment claiming to be a list of cures.
- Malicious Web sites mirroring legitimate sources of information. Currently, state police said a malicious Web site is masquerading as the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases map. State police advise that visiting the malicious Web site infects the user with the AZORult trojan, an information stealing program that can exfiltrate a variety of sensitive data.
State police recommend that people make sure their computers have the latest updates and an anti-virus program.
Additionally, state police advise that users should delete any e-mail from people they do not recognize or that has attachments they are not expecting.
State police noted that people can also check unknown or suspicious files and URLs for malware by scanning them at https://www.virustotal.com.
State police said charities can be verified at https://www.charities.pa.gov, and cautioned people not to contribute to an unfamiliar crowdfunding campaign.