CORONAVIRUS SCAMS UPDATE

Dr. Sherry McCoy PhD

is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles. Follow SSSAP on Facebook . For more info re: SSSAP, contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com. Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or nbynews@juno.com.

 

“CORONAVIRUS SCAMS UPDATE”

Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD – Stop Senior Scams℠ Acting Program

It’s May 2020 and all the flowers and jacaranda trees are in full bloom here in Southern California.  It’s glorious outside!  Spring has sprung, regardless of whatever else might be going on in the world.  As of this writing, we are still under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic.  And no surprise — fraudsters are still out in full force, scheming their way along, making criminal plans to separate us from our hard-earned cash and retirement funds – even in the midst of a world-wide pandemic!  Nothing seems to stop them; so nothing should stop us from staying informed about frauds that target seniors.  Here’s a mini-update on what’s going on in the world re coronavirus scams.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “As of [April 13,2020], the Federal Trade Commission, the agency tasked with protecting American consumers, has fielded about 16,800 complaints of coronavirus-related fraud, with a total reported loss of $12.78 million. The median loss for a complainant is $570.”¹  In addition, coronavirus scams run the gamut, “from purveyors of unorthodox medical treatments” touting remedies for COVID-19, “to sophisticated Medicare scammers, identity thieves and fraudsters who are soliciting investment in coronavirus treatments that don’t exist or aren’t recognized by government scientists.”¹

Per Timothy DeFrancesca (a special agent leading the LA office of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Inspector General) – Scammers are not only calling Medicare beneficiaries at their homes, they are knocking on their doors and approaching them in grocery store / pharmacy parking lots, to offer them special deals on home-test kits for COVID-19, packages of masks, hand sanitizer and other protective gear.¹  In a 2020 Coronavirus Fraud Scams Alert², California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) warns seniors to beware of scammers offering “opportunities” for COVID-19 testing via: 1) Robocalls re: “special virus kits” which are “free” as long as you give them your Medicare number; and 2) Emails that offer COVID-19 testing services which you can order through a telehealth provider.  To protect yourself against coronavirus scams, don’t give out your Social Security number or any personal information to anyone through unsolicited emails, robocalls, texts, etc.  Be proactive and review your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or Explanation of Benefits (EOB) for errors and/or products / services you did not receive.  Contact your medical doctor if you are experiencing symptoms you believe are associated with coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

 

MAY 15TH IS NATIONAL SENIOR FRAUD AWARENESS DAY

 

In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council designated May 15th as Senior Fraud Awareness Day to bring awareness to this number one form of elder abuse.  In 2018, based on the recommendation of the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, the US Senate unanimously approved May 15th as National Senior Fraud Awareness Day.  The Stop Senior Scams℠ Acting Program is a peer-to-peer educational group which uses theater to bring awareness of senior scams and prevention to the community.  We encourage other groups to do the same.   

If you have questions about Medicare fraud / abuse, or believe you have been the victim of Medicare fraud please contact the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080. For more info regarding California SMP, go to www.cahealthadvocates.org.  If you feel you have been the target or victim of a scam, report it to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging’s Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.  You may also report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357 or https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.  And then — Pass It On!  Contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office online at http://da.lacounty.gov// or phone (213) 974-3512.

 

¹ “Fake cures, scams, phony medications and price gouging: Predators pounce during coronavirus,”         https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-14/coronavirus-home-test-treatment-scams

² https://cahealthadvocates.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/SMP-Fraud-COVID19-flyer_03.pdf

 

Remember:  You may be a target, but you don’t have to be a victim!

Dr. Sherry McCoy, PhD, is a freelance writer & actor for the Stop Senior Scams ℠ Acting Program (SSSAP) in Los Angeles.  For more information, please contact Adrienne Omansky at SSSAP4U@gmail.com.  Follow SSSAP on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SSSAP2016/?fref=ts.  Questions for the writer should be directed to “Dear Sherry” at Not Born Yesterday! P.O. Box 722, Brea, CA 92822 or nbynews@juno.com.

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