Frauds & Scams
An increase in online fraudulent activity resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak has been reported.
In particular, the FBI has identified an effort to scam consumers by selling counterfeit Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks. The Public is urged to take the following proactive measures:
- When ordering PPE from online retailers, always verify the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and confirm “https” in the web address, as a lack of a security certification (“https”) may be an indicator that the site is insecure or compromised
- Consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) NIOSH website to view a list of all NIOSH approved manufacturers of N95 respirator masks and validate approval and certification numbers
- Confirm N95 respirator mask approval status and certification numbers using the NIOSH flyer (Figure 1), the NIOSH website, or the CDC website, which includes examples of identified counterfeit or unapproved N95 respirator masks
- If procuring other categories of PPE such as gowns, gloves, goggles, and face shields, consult the manufacturer to verify authenticity and availability
- Be wary of unprompted solicitations to purchase large quantities of PPE and do not provide usernames, passwords, personal identifying information (PII) such as social security number and date of birth, or financial information in response to an email or robocall
*If you believe your organization has purchased counterfeit PPE or COVID-19 testing kits, or were the victim of a fraud or scam, please contact your local FBI Field Office.
Scams discovered by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, NJCCIC, and Federal Agencies:
- On March 10, local police in Moorestown (Burlington County) warned residents of people purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), specifically that “there have been social media posts regarding individuals going door to door claiming to be from the CDC.”
- Starting on March 15, US cellular subscribers received text messages in which the author claimed to have a connection to someone working at a clinic or government agency and revealed unannounced plans for an impending lockdown or quarantine. The messages follow similar patterns and suggest the recipient stockpile food, gas, medicine, or other necessities and pass the information onto others.
- A new phishing campaign delivers emails purportedly from the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Info: https://www.cyber.nj.gov/alerts-and-advisories/20200327/phishing-emails-claim-to-be-from-who-director-general