Scams Are Spreading, Too
Coronavirus ploys facing federal crackdown — from bleach to ozone therapy
Scammers are taking advantage of misinformation and fear during the pandemic. As of April 21, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center had reviewed more than 3,600 complaints related to Covid-19 scams, which have included fake vaccines and cures, fraudulent charity drives, and sites seeking people’s identification and bank information. Here are three that faced crackdown in April, so far.
- One of the most prominent scams is from a group called Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, which was selling a product called Miracle Mineral Solution that they claimed could cure coronavirus, as well as other diseases including Alzheimer’s, autism, brain cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and more. In actuality, it’s a kind of bleach. Regulators stopped the sale of the product. The Guardian reported on Friday that Genesis II leader, Mark Grenon, sent a letter to President Donald Trump saying their product is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body” and that it “can rid the body of Covid-19.”
- A Dallas health clinic called Purity Health and Wellness Centers faced legal percussions for fraudulently claiming that a so-called “ozone therapy” could treat Covid-19. In one case, a potential customer was told that although ozone could be dangerous, the clinic’s treatment was safe (even for children), could sanitize anything, and would eradicate viral infections, according to the Justice Department. The clinic claimed on Instagram that ozone was the “only prevention” for Covid-19 and that it could “eradicate” the coronavirus.
- The Justice Department says there have been many fake websites that claim to provide pandemic-related information or opportunities for donations. For example, shortly after the IRS notified people of links to apply for Covid-19 stimulus checks, the FBI discovered several fraudulent sites designed to look like IRS stimulus webpages. In another case, a fake site pretended to collect donations to the American Red Cross for Covid-19 response efforts.