Authorities warn of increase in Coronavirus scams

Posted at 5:29 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 20:32:28-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Scams related to the Coronavirus pandemic are showing no signs of slowing down.

From email scams to people promising a cure, federal investigators say they are seeing a wide range of sketchy activity.

AARP, along with the FBI and Department of Justice, held a virtual town hall to discuss frauds and scams related to COVID-19.

“The fraudsters will play upon victims’ uncertainty and fear. The scammers play upon victims’ emotions. During this time, it’s difficult for everybody. It’s a fearful time,” said FBI Special Agent Nora Collas during the virtual event.

A question from one caller focused on what to do about people you are supposed to trust who may try to take advantage of you. He specifically mentioned the case of Dr. Jennings Staley, a doctor Team 10 first reported on in March. Dr. Staley operated a Carmel Valley med spa and was offering COVID-19 treatment packs for nearly $4,000, according to prosecutors. Court documents stated that Staley, now charged with mail fraud, told people it would cure COVID-19 “100 percent.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Huie did not comment specifically about that case during te town hall, but said especially during this time, people should look at things with a “healthy dose of skepticism.”

“You should not assume that just because a product or a service is being offered out in the open, that that product or service is legitimate,” Huie said.

When it comes to emails that do not look right or text messages that seem unusual, the vest thing to do is not engage, according to the FBI and DOJ. If you get an email that looks suspicious, examine the email address and don’t click on any links.

Being isolated, being at home, we are plugged into our devices… we are thirsty for information. Unfortunately, this is such a target rich environment for fraudsters,” Huie said.

If you see a suspected scam about the Coronavirus, you can email our Team 10 investigators: