The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General recently warned the general public about CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus-related fraud schemes as the pandemic remains one of the country’s top concerns.
Chris Schrank, the assistant inspector general for investigations at the HHS, alerted the public in a video released on Dec. 21 that scammers are actively looking for prey to exploit using fears of the CCP virus. They solicit personal information with unapproved and illegitimate virus tests or cures, using telemarketing, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to carry out their scams.
CCP virus-related fraud has been on the rise since March 2020. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said as of Dec. 16, 2020, there were over 145,000 reports of fraud.
The HHS warned people to be vigilant, stating that money cannot enhance one’s ranking for vaccine eligibility and that government and state officials will not call people or go door-to-door to collect personal information in order to receive the vaccine.
According to the FTC’s report, there are several types of scams involving: undelivered goods, price gouging, free groceries, cures, robocalls, emails, text messages, identity theft, online shopping, and stimulus checks.
Beneficiaries should be cautious of any unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, or financial information. HHS said Medicare “will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.”
People should be cautious of any unexpected calls or visitors regarding CCP virus tests or supplies. HHS warned people not to open any hyperlinks or respond to text messages from unknown persons and not to give out personal or financial information to anyone who claims to offer any CCP-related official grants.
HHS called on people not to respond to advertisements about the CCP virus on social media, and make sure to only use official sites to make an appointment for any test or other medical examinations. “Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test.”
HHS urges people to report suspicious encounters online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).