Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema want seniors to beware of unscrupulous scammers who are using the coronavirus outbreak to take advantage of people.

Both offices received an increase in reports from Arizonans about fake miracle cures and events, sanitization services, emails, robocalls and government impostors targeting seniors.

On Friday, the FBI also reported a rise in fraud related to COVID-19. In Arizona, U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey appointed a federal prosecutor to target fraud in the state after receiving reports of COVID-19 scams.

COVID-19 scams

Here are some scams that officials want people to look out for.

  • Shopping thieves are targeting self-isolating seniors by offering to go to stores to buy goods only to take the money and not return.
  • Door-to-door scammers are claiming they can sanitize homes and help keep seniors from getting COVID-19. Door-to-door scammers have also been impersonating U.S. Census Bureau workers to acquire financial information or money. The Census Bureau suspended field operations until April due to COVID-19.
  • Scammers impersonating health organizations have been calling and emailing people offering COVID-19 vaccinations for a fee per dose. Other fraudulent products include hand soaps, supplements, toothpaste and essential oils. There are no known products that can cure the virus or vaccines available.
  • Scammers are impersonating government officials and private institutions in an attempt to gather personal or financial information. Arizonans have been targeted by text messages stating they are "prequalified" to receive money from the "virus outbreak." Relief checks are not a reality yet, nor will government offices call or text for Social Security numbers, account information or credit card numbers.
  • Illegal robocalls, text messages and emails scamming people with pitches for COVID-19 testing and treatment are on the rise. The FBI warns people to watch out for emails claiming to be from the CDC or those asking to verify personal information. The FBI also warns to watch out for counterfeit products such as sanitizing products, N95 respirator masks, goggles, full-face shields, protective gowns and gloves.
  • Bailey's office warned about fake at-home testing kits and individuals providing phony testing door-to-door.
  • Bailey's office also warned about scammers soliciting donations for charities or investment in companies with products that prevent, detect or cure COVID-19.

On Saturday, the Department of Justice announced it filed its first action in federal court to combat COVID-19 related fraud.

Operators of the website "coronavirusmedicalkit.com," were allegedly engaging in a wire fraud scheme by offering consumers access to World Health Organization vaccine kits. Consumers had to pay $4.95 for shipping using a credit card.

The DOJ warned that there are no such vaccines, nor is the WHO distributing them.

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732