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What To Do If You Think You've Been Scammed During The Coronavirus Crisis

U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers in his Cincinnati office.
Ann Thompson
U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers in his Cincinnati office.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are targets of COVID-19 scams. "Bad actors are messing with Americans' morale and sewing seeds of distrust," says U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Dave DeVillers. The Justice Department is helping to crack down on this fraud and has advice if you've been victimized.

If you suspect you have been hit with a scam, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) at 1-866-720-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov.

These scams can come in a variety of different forms:

  • Fake cures
  • Phishing emails posing as the WHO or CDC
  • Malicious websites offering up information on COVID-19
  • Criminals seeking donations from illegitimate or non-existent organizations
  • Medical professionals obtaining personal information for tests and using it to bill for other tests

DeVillers' office is investigating Ohio doctors who he says are stockpiling drugs that some say may work to treat COVID-19, like chloroquine.

"Don't do it. We're going to prosecute you for it. We're actively investigating a number of them now. The whole purpose of this is so there is enough medication to go to the people who need it. People who are suffering from the coronavirus but also the people who have lupus."

DeVillers says in one case a veterinarian is accused of prescribing the medication to dogs to hoard it.

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.