Workers set up quarantine trailers to temporarily house people with COVID-19 on March 31, 2020. Reno Gazette Journal
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Nevada is stepping up against fraud and cybercrime in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic while warning against nine common COVID-19-related scams.
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Tratanich and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford announced the formation of a Nevada COVID-19 Task Force on Monday, April 13.
The team is made up of experts who have tackled general fraud, heath care fraud, Medicaid fraud, insurance fraud, workers’ compensation fraud and cybercrime.
“Sadly, it is all too common for fraudsters to take advantage of the public during times of great distress and hardship,” Ford said.
He said fraudsters “have no business taking advantage of Nevadans.”
The task force will take complaints from the public and law enforcement agencies.
9 common scams
1. Diagnosis Testing scams: Scammers offer fake COVID-19 testing kits, particularly door-to-door.
2. Treatment/Cure scams: Scammers offer fake or unproven treatment regimens that are particularly dangerous because they have the potential to do more harm than good.
3. Charity scams: Virtually every time there is a disaster or emergency, scammers set up fake charities to solicit donations that they then spend on themselves.
4. Overinflated prices: The task force will use every tool available to hold sellers accountable who unlawfully use the COVID-19 pandemic to unreasonably inflate prices.
5. Investment scams: Scammers make false claims about tests, cures and other matters related to COVID-19 to entice victims to make investment decisions based on those false claims that allow the scammer to steal money and assets from Nevadans.
6. Cyber scams: Scammers send victims emails related to COVID-19 that appear to be from the victims’ banks, health care providers, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and others for the purpose of obtaining the victims’ personal identifying information and exploiting it for the scammers’ own benefit.
7. App scams: Scammers are creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
8. Insurance, Workers’ Compensation and Medicaid fraud: Businesses and government agencies are not immune to scams. They should also be vigilant to ensure scammers do not take advantage of their businesses or customers during this pandemic.
9. Economic Impact Payment (Stimulus Check): Scammers pretend to be government officials offering false economic impact payments (stimulus checks) in order to obtain personal identifying information including social security and bank account numbers.
Agencies part of the COVID-19 task force:
- U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Office of the Nevada Attorney General
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Secret Service
- Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General
- Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General
- Department of Education Office of Inspector General
- Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service
- Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
- Nevada’s Secretary of State’s Office
- Washoe County Sheriff’s Office
- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Tips to avoid scams
If you are in danger or experiencing a true emergency, call 911.
If you have been victimized by any crime related to the COVID-19 pandemic, report your experience to the Attorney General’s Office (ag.nv.gov/Complaints/File_Complaint/) and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or by e-mailing the NCDF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In your email, provide the following information:
- Your full name and contact information
- The dates on which you were victimized
- The location of the incident (including city and state)
- A brief description of the crime
- The name(s) and contact information of the perpetrator(s) (if known)
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.
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