Raoul warns the public that unsolicited requests
for money by purported charitable organizations or requests for
personal information by individuals claiming to represent public
health agencies actually could be scams. According to Raoul,
attorneys general around the country are receiving reports about
several different scams, including cyber scams, telephone and text
messaging scams, counterfeit product offers, bogus door-to-door
offers of tests and products related to the coronavirus, and
solicitations for donations to phony charities.
The Attorney General’s office is partnering with the U.S. attorneys’
offices for the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois
to fight fraud related to the pandemic. Additionally, Raoul’s office
is in contact with state’s attorneys throughout Illinois and the
Illinois State Police in order to collaborate to protect Illinois
residents from criminal fraud during the coronavirus outbreak.
“It is absolutely reprehensible that individuals would seek to use
the coronavirus public health crisis to defraud the people of
Illinois, and I will not hesitate to use the authority of my office
and partnerships with state, local and federal law enforcement to
hold accountable anyone seeking to profit off this pandemic,” Raoul
said. “It is disheartening that a warning is necessary, but because
we know scams are making the rounds, I am urging Illinois residents
to be vigilant and report any COVID-19 scams to the Attorney
According to Raoul, scams being reported to his office and those of
attorneys general around the country include:
Attorney General Raoul is urging people to be wary of all emails
claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other health care
organizations, offering to share information about the virus. Do not
open attachments or click on links within these emails, as scammers
are using phony COVID-19 tracking websites to infect electronic
devices with malware, putting residents at risk for identity theft
and financial exploitation.
Be on the lookout for emails asking for the verification of personal
data, including Medicare or Medicaid information, in exchange for
receiving economic stimulus funds or other benefits from the
government. Government agencies are NOT sending out emails asking
for residents’ personal information in order to receive funds or
other pandemic relief opportunities.
Only visit websites with clearly-distinguishable URL addresses.
Scammers seek to direct web traffic to similar, but
falsely-identified website names where they can provide
misinformation or attempt to gain consumers’ personal information or
finances in exchange for pandemic updates.
Telephone and Text Messaging Scams
As more individuals are working from home, possibly responding to a
larger volume of phone calls, it may be more difficult to ignore
calls from unknown numbers. Hang up immediately if you inadvertently
answer a robocall. Scammers are offering everything from COVID-19
treatments and cures, to work-from-home schemes. Even if the call
recording says that pressing a number will direct you to a live
operator or even remove you from the call list, it may actually lead
to more robocalls.
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Similar to email phishing scams, text messages from
unknown sources may include hyperlinks to what appear to be
automated pandemic updates, or interactive infection maps. These can
allow scammers to install malware on your mobile electronic devices,
so you should immediately delete such messages.
Counterfeit Product Offers & High-Demand Goods
Ignore offers for COVID-19 vaccinations and home test kits that are
made online, in stores, through electronic messages or over the
phone. Currently, no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, medications,
or other prescription or over-the-counter products are available to
treat or cure the Coronavirus disease. Products such as chlorine
dioxide, hydroxycholroquine, essential oils, colodial silver,
elderberry and garlic will not prevent against or cure COVID-19.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not
authorized any home test kits for COVID-19.
Attorney General Raoul has urged people to buy only
what they need and not to hoard consumer goods, including household
cleaning products, sanitizers, personal hygiene products, and health
and medical supplies that have been in extreme demand. If purchasing
these products online, research the seller by searching online for
the person or company’s name, phone number and email address, plus
words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Pay using a credit card
as opposed to debit, and keep a record of the transaction.
Over the last couple of weeks, Raoul’s office has received
approximately 750 complaints related to price gouging, and the
Attorney General’s office will utilize its authority under the
Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act to address any
unfair pricing that is prohibited under the law. To report unfair
pricing, please visit the Attorney General’s website at
Bogus Door-to-Door Tests and Virus-related Products
In the interest of safety, Attorney General Raoul is urging
residents to NOT answer the door or allow into their residences any
unknown individuals or business representatives going door-to-door
offering consumer products, medical kits, vaccines, cures,
whole-home sanitization or in-person COVID-19 testing. Instead,
contact local law enforcement and, if possible, alert neighbors,
Phony Charities & Donation Requests
Attorney General Raoul also says people should exercise caution when
donating to charitable causes connected to the COVID-19 outbreak and
find out how their donation will be utilized. Under Illinois law,
fundraisers and charitable organizations are required to register
each year with the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s
office provides important financial information about charities,
including income, expenditures and programs. Please contact the
Attorney General’s Charitable Trust Bureau or visit
ConsumerResources.org for tips on being an informed donor. For
instance, always make donations using a credit card or other secure
payment processer. NEVER donate via a gift card, wire transfer or
other anonymous electronic payment processer.
Attorney General Raoul also is reminding people to follow guidance
issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the CDC, the
World Health Organization and other public health agencies.
Raoul encourages people to report scams connected to the COVID-19
outbreak by visiting the Attorney General’s website. In addition,
donors to report suspicious solicitations to his office’s Charitable
Trust Bureau at 312-814-2595 (TTY: 1-800-964-3013).
[OFFICE OF THE ILLINOI ATTORNEY