Authorities Warn of Scams Linked to Antibody Testing, Contact Tracing

By Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya
Venus Upadhayaya reports on wide range of issues. Her area of expertise is in Indian and South Asian geopolitics. She has reported from the very volatile India-Pakistan border and has contributed to mainstream print media in India for about a decade. Community media, sustainable development, and leadership remain her key areas of interest.
July 2, 2020Updated: July 2, 2020

The Justice Department (DOJ) and the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) issued warnings about scams related to antibody testing, contact tracing, and other fraud schemes linked to the CCP virus.

The HHS said scammers are luring people by offering CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus tests to Medicare beneficiaries and stealing their personal information, including Medicare information. “However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate,” said the HHS Office of Inspector General in a public alert on Monday.

Fraudsters are using various means to target vulnerable people including telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits.

“These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harms. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill Federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft,” said the HHS, adding that if Medicare or Medicaid denies their claim for an unapproved test, the victims would have to pay.

The DOJ gave an extensive list of scams or attempted frauds involving the CCP virus pandemic.

It warned the public about antibody testing fraud schemes, unsolicited healthcare fraud schemes through emails, phone calls, or in-person contact, cryptocurrency fraud schemes including but not limited to blackmail attempts, work from home scams, paying for non-existent treatments or equipment, investment scams, unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees and robocalls making fraudulent offers to sell respiratory masks or other medical devices.

Epoch Times Photo
Disposable surgical masks are packed in boxes at Prestige Ameritech in Richland Hills, Texas, on May 3, 2009. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

“Law enforcement has seen an increase in social media scams and telephone calls fraudulently seeking donations for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations requesting you to enter your bank account information,” the DOJ said. “It could be an attempt to infect your computer with malicious software that could steal your personal information, including but not limited to your credit card number or bank password.”

The officials also warned people about fraudsters posing as government officials or facilitators promising CARES Act stimulus payments and asking for personal identifying information (PII).

“Also be aware of mass-mailing, spam email, or text-message campaigns to perpetrate government-imposter schemes. These forms of communication provide a website, a phone number, or an email address for consumers to contact to arrange for stimulus payments upon payment of an advanced fee or threatening adverse consequences for failure to cooperate with the alleged stimulus-related transaction,” said the department.

“These fake sites are requesting PII, including banking information to deposit stimulus payments. Perpetrators then will use this information to debit money from the consumers’ bank accounts.”

Officials have asked people to be careful about any unexpected calls about tests or medical supplies and ignore all advertisements related to CCP virus testing on social media.

“Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number or financial information,” said HHS officials.

The HHS has also warned people from opening any hyperlinks in text messages related to the CCP virus from unknown numbers. “Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19,” the agency added.

For suspected COVID-19 fraud, people can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline on (866) 720-5721.