U.S. Postal Inspectors warn coronavirus scams on the rise

Updated: Mar. 20, 2020 at 9:23 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As millions of American remain focused on their health and limiting contact with others during the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Postal Inspectors warn that scammers have identified the public’s concern as a target for scams and fraud.

“We are aggressively looking at this thing from a fraud perspective,” said Postal Inspector Micahel Romano.

Romano says while they have not had to take action on an instance of coronavirus-related mail fraud scams, spikes in these types of crimes during national emergencies are common.

“As with any sort of incident, natural disasters of the past there has always been individuals out there who have taken advantage of others during a difficult time,” said Romano. “Although the mode changes from time to time, the scammers will still do the same thing whether it’s on the phone, whether it’s going to be text or emails or whether it’s actually going to come through the mail.”

According to the U.S. Postal Inspector website, people should follow the following tips to keep from falling victim to coronavirus related mail fraud scams:

  • Be aware of charity scams: Only contribute to established organizations.
  • Don’t click on links in emails: Never click on links in emails from sources you don’t know, especially those that claim to be from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO).
  • There currently is no cure or treatment: Be wary of offers for vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, or other products that claim to cure or treat Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Don’t give out financial information: Don’t give your financial information or personal information to anyone you don’t know and don’t trust.
  • Resist pressure tactics: Don’t be pressured into making immediate financial decisions.
  • Know who you can trust: Consult with a trusted friend or family member before making a payment.

"It’s not a matter of if it’s a matter of when these thing are going to pop up, said Romano.

In response to the increased threat of fraud presented by the coronavirus, federal and Virginia state law enforcement leaders announced today the formation of the Virginia Coronavirus Fraud Task Force.

The mission of the task force is to identify, investigate, and prosecute fraud related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Virginia.

If you believe you are the victim of a mail fraud scam you urged to contact the postal inspectors at 877-876-2455.

For more information on how to protect your self from mail fraud during the coronavirus outbreak click HERE.

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