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KARE 11 Investigates: Coronavirus scams spread

The government is warning of scam artists and profiteers looking to take advantage of COVID-19 fears.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is warning consumers to watch out for coronavirus-related scams.

“I say directly to Minnesotans, this is a good time to be careful,” Ellison said.

Ellison said scammers are increasingly targeting consumers by attempting to sell bogus products and unproven treatments, as well as attempting to trick them into revealing their sensitive personal or financial information.

“It’s disgusting even to think about scam artists taking advantage of a moment like this,” he said. “Sadly, it happens.”

KARE 11 is working to identify and expose coronavirus related scams and price gouging. It you have an example, CLICK HERE.

Some of the scams surrounding COVID-19 include:

  • Setting up websites to sell bogus products, fake COVID-19 vaccines, and other unproven treatments.
  • Using fake emails, texts, and social media posts to deceptively solicit “donations” for victims.
  • Imposter scams where scammers send malicious emails impersonating government agencies such as the CDC in hopes that you will click on a link, and thereby download malicious software that will give the scammer access to your personal or financial information.

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The Federal government is also sending out warnings about scams.

The FDA and FTC issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products which claimed they can treat or prevent coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.

The New York Attorney General ordered radio host Alex Jones of InfoWars to stop selling fake coronavirus treatments after claiming his Superblue Toothpaste “kills the whole SARS-corona family at point-blank range.”

“As the coronavirus continues to pose serious risks to public health, Alex Jones has spewed outright lies and has profited off of New Yorkers’ anxieties,” said Attorney General Letitia James in a press release.

To avoid falling victim to false claims, Minnesota’s Attorney General urges people to:

  • Avoid clicking links from unknown sources
  • Get updated information about COVID-19 directly from government agencies (such as MDH and CDC)
  • Ignore offers for "miracle" health products, treatments or vaccinations
  • Do research before donating to a nonprofit or charity
  • Report suspected scams to the Attorney General's Office

“We want to hear your reports if you believe scams, price gouging, other improper behavior is going on,” Ellison said. You can contact the Attorney General’s Office through their website: http://www.ag.state.mn.us/

More information on the coronavirus: 

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and keep tabs on the cases around the world here. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here.

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.