As FTC issues fresh warning, here are 5 COVID-19 scams to be aware of

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On the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s latest warning about coronavirus treatment scams, here are five scams to be aware of.

1. Flood of bogus COVID-19 treatments

In this ruse, scammers leverage news about legitimate coronavirus research. One tactic is to misrepresent the news and claim that a remedy has been discovered, the FTC said in an advisory on Thursday.

“If there’s a medical breakthrough, you’re not going to hear about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch,” the agency said.

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In the FTC’s latest round of warning letters, the agency said it is seeing “some far-fetched claims.” Those include listening to a music CD of frequencies to resist the coronavirus, taking high doses of intravenous vitamin C, using Chinese herbs, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, ozone therapy, bio-electric shields, HEPA air purifiers, and UV light therapy, the FTC explained.

The commission has published a new list of companies to which it has issued warnings.

To date, the FTC has sent more than 120 warning letters to marketers making COVID-19 health claims. A complete list can be found here.

2. Robocalls pitching bogus treatments

The FTC has also sent letters to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers, warning them about facilitating robocalls pitching supposed coronavirus-related products or services.

This comes after a report from Next Caller said 32 percent of Americans say that they believe they have already been targeted by fraud or scams related to COVID-19.

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3. Fraudsters pretending to be the government ready to hand out relief checks

The FBI has identified a number of look-alike IRS stimulus payment websites. The scam attempts to extract sensitive personal information as part of a ruse to purportedly send money.

The Treasury Department is also warning of similar scams, via phone calls or emails, claiming to be from the Treasury and offering COVID-19 related grants or stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information.

4. Cryptocurrency

In this scam, fraudsters leverage the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic to steal money and launder it through the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

There are thousands of cryptocurrency “kiosks” located across the globe that criminals use to facilitate their schemes, the FBI said. So much so that many traditional financial crimes use cryptocurrencies now.

The crimes include blackmail, where threatening emails are sent by scammers claiming to have access to your personal information, such as passwords stolen during data breaches, or knowledge of your “dirty secrets” and demand payment in Bitcoin to prevent the release of information.

“With the advent of COVID-19, there is a new twist on this scam. The correspondence claims that the writer will both release your information and infect you and/or your family with coronavirus unless payment is sent to a Bitcoin wallet,” the FBI said.

5. Emails from the CDC or WHO

Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

Typically, these scammers send phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing sensitive personal and financial information.