Adam Levin spoke with Nina Pineda from WABC TV about how scammers take advantage of individuals during times of panic and fear. With Ebola stories dominating headline news and sending people into a frenzy, individuals should be on high alert for these types of Ebola scams:
1) Product scams – The FTC says scam artists, more like snake oil salesman, are making unsubstantiated claims that products containing herbal oils and snake venom can cure or prevent Ebola. There are no FDA approved vaccines, drugs or products designed to cure or prevent Ebola on the market. The FDA sent a warning letter to NJ company, Natural Solutions Foundation for promoting and selling drugs, like Nano Silver, it claims will cure and prevent Ebola.
2) Charity scams – Be on the alert for solicitations from obscure nonprofit groups claiming to provide relief for Ebola victims. You could wind up lining the pocket of some cyber thief and diverting funds needed by victims. Even worse, if you later claim a tax deduction for your donation to a nonprofit that isn’t legitimate, the Internal Revenue Service could audit you. Before committing, check up on a nonprofit in the “exempt organizations” section at IRS.gov.
3) Stock scams – When a disease epidemic makes the news, fraudsters often start aggressively pitching the stock of companies that supposedly have found a cure or other solution — or claim to be close to a breakthrough. The fraudsters use “pump and dump schemes” by aggressively promoting what turn out to be penny stocks, associated with little known companies that promote products with false claims that these “wonder drugs” are able to protect against and even cure individuals from deadly diseases like Ebola. With people now dying of the disease, these pitches will intensify. Consumers should investigate the source, know where the stock trades, read the company’s SEC filings, be wary of any company name changes, read the fine print and never fall for name dropping.
4) Phishing scams – As bad as an investment or charity scam can be to your reputation or wallet, you also could wind up becoming an identity-theft victim if you fall for Ebola-related frauds. Be careful about any unsolicited e-mail messages you might receive regarding Ebola or other diseases. NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan warn of phishing emails entitled “people being quarantined” or “Ebola Pandemic Update” as cyber traps. Don’t click on suspicious links, videos, photos, or attachments, which may contain malware. This malware could track your keystrokes to learn your passwords and now the scammer has access to all of your personal and financial information.
Consumers must be vigilant. It’s wise to research any charity or broker that is soliciting your business and don’t click on suspicious links. If someone suspects they are an identity theft victim, they should immediately change their passwords and never repeat across websites, check their bank accounts for suspicious activity and sign up for transactional monitoring from their bank.