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FBI warns Utahns, healthcare providers to be aware of COVID-19 scams and fraud

Posted at 4:44 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 23:46:30-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Scammers are continuing to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to steal money through a variety of means.

“With the pandemic going on, we’re beginning to see that folks that engage in schemes to defraud are beginning to use orders through healthcare providers and also just using their regular scams, but with using COVID-19 as a way to get at people’s money,” said Supervisory Special Agent Drew Scown with the FBI Salt Lake City Office. “We are expecting that government sponsored programs and insurance programs are going to be targets for fraud.”

The FBI anticipates frauds will continue regarding purchases of masks, hospital gowns, cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer and other medical supplies.

“The other thing that we want folks to be aware of is the possibility that individuals who have acquired bulk items of medical supplies both for the medical profession or for individuals that are interested in having cleaning supplies,” said Scown. “When someone thinks that there’s price gouging going on, meaning that the person selling the supplies is asking an unreasonable amount for those supplies, that they should report that to law enforcement.”

The FBI advises to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity including: Unusual payment terms, last-minute price changes, last-minute excuses for delay in shipment or an unexplained source of bulk supply. The FBI is also advising to be alert to counterfeit products such as sanitizing products and personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks, respirators, goggles, full-face shields, protective gowns and gloves.