Phone, social media, email hoaxes prey on coronavirus fears, Troubleshooter separates fact from fiction

Diane Wilson Image
Thursday, March 19, 2020
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Hoaxes and scams are popping up related to the coronavirus.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Scammers are out in full force trying to prey on the novel coronavirus fears.

ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson said the key is not to panic if you see one of these bogus claims on social media or if you get one of these scam calls, emails or text messages.

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic live updates: Wayne County resident tests positive for coronavirus

LISTEN: Voicemail hoax

In one phone scam, the caller says:

"The US is about to go on a four-week quarantine which means you cannot leave your home, you can't go anywhere that you can do sales transactions like grocery stores, shopping, movies, anything like that. In about two weeks, one to two weeks they are going to announce the shutdown. Once the shutdown is in place, or the warning, you know, everything in the grocery store will be cleared out. At this time, it's critical you stock up on canned goods, frozen foods, things that you will be able to survive off of two weeks from, or four weeks for. Toilet tissue, paper towels, it's bigger than just Clorox and bleach. You have to be able to feed your family."

This voicemail is a hoax meant to evoke fear.

Scammers are also sending phishing emails and texts pretending to work for your child's school or your work. The message has a link, and if you click on it, you could download malware. If you're asked for any personal information, don't enter it.

Have a question about coronavirus? Send it to us here.

Officials also warned the public not to fall for fake cures peddled by some companies and individuals possibly trying to scam consumers with their claims. The FTC and FDA issued warnings to seven companies accused of selling unapproved or misbranded products claiming they can treat or cure COVID-19 with teas, essential oils and colloidal silver.

WATCH: Latest coronavirus coverage:

Since NC is under a State of Emergency the the price-gouging law is in effect. So far, the attorney general said his office has received 25 complaints--the majority deal with groceries and hand sanitizer price-gouging issues.

The Better Business Bureau also warned against basic coronavirus scams including those related to face masks and travel.