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Live Mic: Coronavirus scams are out there — so beware

Unknown person enters credit card number into a computer. Photo credit: Getty Images

SALT LAKE CITY — Coronavirus scams are appearing in the wake of the pandemic. The scams are targeting some of the most vulnerable populations.

In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus fraud schemes.

John Huber, U.S. attorney for the District of Utah since June 2015, speaks about the subject with Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic.

“It’s times like these, a crisis, a pandemic, that brings out the best in us,” Huber said. “Unfortunately, there are scoundrels and fraudsters. Senior citizens are at risk from these fraud schemes, and we need to look out for them in particular as they are in a higher risk category.

“We have active cases going on right now in Utah,” he said.

“What should folks be out the lookout for?” Lee asked Huber.

“One of them that I think would be tantalizing to our seniors is selling fake cures for COVID-19,” he said. “We know from our reliable experts that unfortunately we don’t have a proven treatment right now to cure this and to fight off the virus.

“And yet there are people on the internet otherwise advertising that they’ve got the cure-all; they’ve got the panacea that’s going to attack the pandemic. That’s one that we’re actually seeing in Utah. [There are] active investigations of people trying to sell these fake cures to COVID-19,” Huber said.

Phishing fraudsters

He advised listeners to be on the lookout for phishing emails (purporting to be from the World Health Organization or the CDC), which are meant to induce the recipients to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, etc.

“Watch out for fake charities,” Huber warned. “Go directly to the Red Cross or the United Way. Go directly to the source.”

“If you have a warehouse and you’re buying up key things that can help other people with the intent to gouge prices and take advantage of us, you can expect a knock on your warehouse door from a federal agent, who may be friendly but he’s not smiling,” Huber said.

Huber advised calling the hotline at 1-866-720-5721 if you suspect fraud or you or a family member are a victim.

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app