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COVID-19 Fraud: Schemes Being Perpetrated and Their True Costs to the United States

Since the advent of COVID-19, criminals across the globe have been exploiting the virus via a multitude of fraud schemes.  This has come to the attention of the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, including HHS/OIG. 

Sadly, this fraud is so rampant that a recent report found that over $175,000,000 has already been scammed out of innocent, trusting people who have fallen for these schemes out of fear, intimidation, news reports, promises of cures, and the overwhelming number of robocalls that make false promises.

These schemes have become extremelyconvincing, and include fraudulent promises of antibody tests.  In these schemes, callers and advertisers want your personal and health information so that they can bill for false tests and either get paid by the insurance companies or by individuals without health insurance.    

Examples of Fraud Schemes

One example to be aware of is the fact that no antibody test has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  Any claim to the contrary is false, and a potentially fraudulent way to obtain your health information.

Another includes antibody tests that are promoted via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  These types of promotions may also come through telephone calls, emails, texts and various other online advertisements as well.

Those who market COVID-19 tests and promise great free benefits if you provide your health insurance information are purely marketers looking for your personal data, which you should never provide.

If anyone who says they are from the federal or state governments contacts you, and mandates that you must take the antibody test, do not listen to them and do not give them any information.  These calls are also fraudulent.

Finally, any medical practitioner (e.g. doctor, nurse practitioner, nursing assistant, RN, or lab professional) who will only take cash in exchange for the testing is acting in a fraudulent manner. 

Additional Examples of Fraud

At this juncture, there is no cure for COVID-19, despite vaccines having recently been approved by the FDA.  Beware of sales calls, emails, online ads, and social media ads promising cures.  These claims are false, and all the person on the other end cares about is taking your money.

If you receive calls from the IRS or Department of the Treasury Department, always remember that the IRS never calls.  They use USPS first.

Also, anyone promising stimulus checks is a fraudster.

If you are receiving mass mailings about COVID-19, they too are false and only want your personal health information (PHI).  Never share this information with anyone other than your healthcare provider. 

Never give out your Medicaid or Medicare card information either; they will only use it to bill those payors, without a service ever being rendered.

Never buy a STEAM, ITUNES, GOOGLE Play, money order, or Money Gram card or send cash to strangers who request it.  The overwhelming majority (approximately 99%) of such requests are fraudulent. 

Never share your banking information with people who call, email, send you direct mail, or sellon social media platforms.  Once again, they only want your money. 

Protect Your Personal Information

All these fraudsters want is your personal information, your healthcare information,your healthcare card information and/or any other personal data.  The key is to be aware of all of these schemes, and to make sure your information doesn’t fall into the hands of strangers with mal intent.  This will ensure that you are not scammed out of significant monies.  

As a nation, we have to be diligent, aware and on guard to protect ourselves, as well as our money and personal data, including health data.   This is a time to be prepared and to listen to what the government publishes; if it comes from anywhere else, beware.