Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre is warning consumers to beware of scammers who are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to rip off consumers with unproven claims of cures and treatments. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), scammers are setting up fake websites to sell bogus products and using fake emails, texts and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information.
“In any crisis situation, scammers will seek to take advantage of fear and anxiety,” said Sheriff Webre. “We want to educate our citizens from the outset so that no one falls victim to one of these criminals.”
The FTC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently sent warning letters to seven companies regarding unsupported claims about products with the ability to treat COVID-19. Those letters were sent to the following companies: 1) Vital Silver, 2) Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., 3) N-ergetics, 4) GuruNanda, LLC, 5) Vivify Holistic Clinic, 6) Herbal Amy LLC, and 7) The Jim Bakker Show. These companies’ products—including teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver—as able to treat or prevent coronavirus. According to the FDA, however, there are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.
“We understand consumers are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 and urge them to talk to their health care providers, as well as follow advice from other federal agencies about how to prevent the spread of this illness. We will continue to aggressively pursue those that place the public health at risk and hold bad actors accountable,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.
Sheriff Webre cautions citizens to be wary of emails advertising products related to COVID-19. “In many cases, these emails can be “phishing” scams where con artists create an email to appear as one from a reputable company, but they are just aiming to capture your personal data.”
To avoid phishing scams, type out a website address in your browser instead of clicking on a link in an email. When shopping online, look for the “secure” icon in the address bar, or check that the website address begins with “https.” Consumers are encouraged to shop with companies you know and trust and avoid using public Wi-Fi to shop from a mobile device.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams, go to FTC.gov/coronavirus.