Reposted from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office
The Alameda County DA’s Office is researching and keeping up with news on scams and fraudulent schemes that have emerged around the county, state and country over the past several weeks. We hope to keep you informed so that you can protect yourselves from falling prey to consumer fraud.
- Beware of any individual claiming to be an Alameda County employee going door to door to conduct COVID-19 tests. Do not let this person into your home, do not purchase a test, and do not give out your vital information such as credit card numbers or social security number. Alameda County Employees are NOT going door to door offering tests. Anyone who claims so is a fraudster.
- Do not engage with phone calls, robocalls, text messages or e-mail solicitations offering free home testing kits or promoting medicinal cures. These scammers are preying on virus-related fears. Do not agree to buy the products, do not give out your credit card or bank information and do not give out any vital information such as your social security number.
- Some calls have claimed to sell a tests, cures and air duct cleaning and sanitation that enable consumers to breathe free of bacteria to protect their families. These robocalls and texts offer tests and cures and ask for payments over the phone and may also request private medical information. One pernicious version of this scam is targeting higher risk individuals with diabetes, offering a free COVID-19 testing kit along with a free diabetic monitor.
- Some states are aware of fake “Senior Care Packages” that are sent to seniors with sanitizers, tests and even perhaps suggestion of a vaccine, some claiming Trump has ordered the test. These scams include obtaining personal information from elders to bill federal and state health programs for services not performed.
- Charitable giving is important, but carefully research any organization or charity asking for a donation to help fight COVID-19 or to assist sick individuals. Scammers creating fake charities in an effort to prey on philanthropic desires around the country and send fake emails posing as officials from entities such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since county officials and the Governor declared a state of emergency and since the shelter in place order was announced, our office has recorded a steady stream of calls and e-mails notifying us of instances of price gouging on products ranging from paper goods to cleaning supplies and food. DA Inspectors also continue to investigate leads that crop up on social media platforms. DA Inspectors are actively following up on leads by going to stores suspected of price gouging and issuing written warnings. Should the practice continue, merchants may face criminal charges.
The DA’s Offices continues to encourage Alameda County residents to report any instances price gouging when shopping for consumer goods or medical supplies. Price gouging refers to sellers trying to take unfair advantage of consumers during an emergency or disaster by increasing prices for essential consumer goods and services more than 10% of their previous price.
Anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, is encouraged to immediately file a complaint with the District Attorney’s Office by going to our website (www.alcoda.org/cewpd/) or by calling (510) 383-8600. Violations of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of, injunctive relief, and mandatory restitution.