The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office would like to make the public aware of a specific email scam related to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) that has recently begun circulating within Yuma County.

According to information provided by Lt. Sam Pavlak in a press release, scammers are trying to take advantage of people’s fears surrounding the outbreak to steal passwords and personal information or get them to donate to a fraudulent charity or cause.

In this particular scam the intended victim receives an email link stating, “Claim your Covid-19 benefit here,” which will take them to a jotform.com website if they click on it.

The link claims to be an information request from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, but Pavlak said in fact it is actually a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has also reported that scammers are setting up fake websites to sell bogus products and using fake emails, texts and social media posts as a ruse.

Pavlak stated that recent scams including phishing links have been sent via text and/or email that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Scammers may utilize emails, social media, phone calls, or text messages about COVID-19, he said, to spread misinformation, to ask for donations, or sell products claiming to prevent or cure COVID-19.

Additional scams may include links claiming to have information regarding the COVID-19 benefits/stimulus package. The links are being utilized to collect personal information. The government does not collect information regarding benefits via text or email.

Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission to help you keep the scammers at bay:

• Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls instead.

• Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)—online or in stores. At this time, there are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.

• Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources.

• Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.

• Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.

• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.

• Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus.

For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov and the World Health Organization (WHO) at www.who.int.

• Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

For additional information related to scams pertaining to COVID-19 visit www.ftc.gov/coronavirus.

For updates and current information pertaining to COVID-19 in Yuma County, please visit the Yuma County website at www.yumacountyaz.gov and click the Yuma County COVID-19 / Coronavirus 2019 link.

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, please contact your local law enforcement agency.

James Gilbert can be reached at jgilbert@yumasun.com or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.

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