FBI warns of increased COVID-19 fraud

LOGAN — Federal investigators are warning local residents and businesses about people taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The criminals are attempting to steal money through a variety of scams.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Drew Scown explained how the scammers are targeting people and health care industry workers, who are trying to purchase coronavirus related medical supplies. The criminals either promise equipment they do not have access to or sell counterfeit supplies.

“We always want the public, and in this particular case most importantly health care professionals and administrators, just to be aware of some of the ways we anticipate that folks with bad intentions will try to steal from them,” said Scown. “One major way of doing that is by using the fear of not having enough supplies to try and manipulate higher prices. Or for just trying to get money out of folks, when in fact (the scammers) don’t have anything that is available.”

The FBI is calling on the medical community to exercise due diligence and appropriate caution when dealing with any vendors whom they have never worked and/or of which they’ve never heard of.

Agent Scown advised that there are several clues to be looking for. Most of the time they involve unusual forms of payment.

“For example, they demand upfront payment or proof of a payment before they can provide supplies. They might also change the price at the last minute or claim there is a delay in shipping. They might say they are going to provide medical supplies at a certain point but then there are delays with any number of excuses they can come up with.”

FBI agents advise that if anyone has witnessed suspicious activity by a vender, or believe they are a victim of a scam to contact local law enforcement. You can also submit a tip to the FBI online at tips.fbi.gov.


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