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Attorney General urges Virginians to beware of coronavirus related scams

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Posted at 2:35 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 14:42:59-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Attorney General Mark Herring is urging Virginians to be wary of coronavirus related scams as the public health concerns continue to grow surrounding the disease.

Herring says these scams include selling products that purport to prevent the coronavirus, spreading misinformation, or pretending to solicit donations for victims of the disease.

“Unfortunately, scammers oftentimes take advantage of natural disasters or public health fears like the coronavirus to make a buck,” said Herring. “It is so important that Virginians stay vigilant and do their research before giving their money to anyone purporting to sell preventative medications or raising funds for victims.”

He offered these tips to protect yourself from coronavirus scams:

• Look out for emails that claim to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying that they have information about the coronavirus. For the most updated information you can visit the CDC and the World Health Organization websites.

• Do not click on any links from unknown sources. This could lead to downloading a virus on your computer or phone.

• Ignore any offers, online or otherwise, for a coronavirus vaccine. If you see any advertisements for prevention, treatment or cures ask the question: if there had been a cure for the disease would you be hearing about that through an advertisement or sales pitch?

• Thoroughly research any organizations or charities purporting to be raising funds for victims of the coronavirus.

• Look out for “investment opportunities” surrounding the coronavirus. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission there are online promotions claiming the products or services of certain publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure the disease and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase because of that.

According to the Virginia Department of Health website, 31 people have now been tested for the coronavirus in the state.

Twenty-one of those tests have come back negative. Ten test results are pending.

So far, no one has tested positive for the disease in Virginia.

Herring is also encouraging all Virginians to take the necessary healthcare precautions to protect against the coronavirus and prevent it from spreading.

Virginians who have questions or concerns should contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section at (800) 552-9963. You can also email consumer@oag.state.va.us.