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News | April 6, 2020

CID Lookout: CID Warns of Increase in COVID-19 Related Fraud, Scams

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command continues its commitment to ensuring the health
and safety of the Army family and recommends being suspicious of anyone offering unsolicited
advice on prevention, protection or recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Opportunistic scammers continue to find creative ways to obtain and use someone’s personal and
financial information. From fake stimulus checks to Medicare fraud, cybercriminals will
undertake extreme measures to separate individuals from their money.

“With the passing of the nearly $2 trillion dollar stimulus bill, cybercriminals around the world
are already looking at ways to exploit it,” said Edward Labarge, director, of CID’s Major
Cybercrime Unit. “During tax season, we see a massive uptick in the amount of tax-related fraud
schemes. With the new stimulus bill, we night see a massive uptick in the amount of stimulus
and debt relief scams circulating on the internet.”

CID officials remind the Army community that stimulus checks will come directly from the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and service members should deal only with the IRS. Reliable
COVID-19 stimulus information is available on the IRS website.

Labarge encourages people to, “ignore all phone calls, emails, and text messages of anyone
asking you for personal information to receive stimulus aid.” The U.S. Government will not ask
you for your private information. If you believe you've been a victim of a scam, contact your
nearest CID office.

Known types of scams:

Medical Supply/ Treatment Scams: Currently, there are no FDA approved home test kits.
Ignore social media or other online offers for home test kits or vaccinations to treat or prevent
COVID-19. Visit www.fda.gov to learn more. Be cautious when ordering Personal Protective
Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer or other medical or health equipment that
is in high demand. Scammers will pitch products creating fake stores online and utilizing social
media to lure purchases of these items to steal your money and not deliver items promised.
Scammers will also offer to sell fake cures, vaccines or COVID-19 test kits.

Imposter Scams: Don’t respond to texts, emails or phone calls requesting personal, banking or
health information. Scammers are also contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be
doctors, hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, or claiming before
treatment can be given demand payment. These calls typically try to create panic and rush
decision-making. Pressure tactics include threats of repercussions if not paid immediately.
Legitimate agencies will not resort to these tactics.

Charity scams: During challenging times, scammers know people want to help others less
fortunate and will exploit this generosity soliciting donations for individuals, groups, or areas
affected by COVID-19.

Stimulus Check Fraud: With the recent approval of stimulus checks, scammers will be
especially creative to obtain personal and banking information through the use of imposter
schemes, robocalls, emails or texts requesting information to “ensure” payment is received on
time. The stimulus check will be a one-time direct payment delivered by the IRS to individual
taxpayers mainly through direct deposit based on information in the previous year’s tax return.
There is no need to sign up and no one from the IRS will call or email you to confirm personal or
bank information.

In addition, the Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Cybercrime Unit continues to warn
the Army community of ongoing COVID-19 themed phishing attacks impersonating
organizations with the end goal of stealing information and delivering malware.

“Cybercriminals are innovative and will take advantage of current browsing trends to conduct
social engineering attacks,” said Labarge. “We have already seen this with malware infected
COVID-19 maps and phishing emails related to the pandemic.”

Labarge said the Major Cybercrime Unit continues to “aggressively pursue cybercriminals both
domestic and abroad who target our Soldier's and their families in their online campaigns.”

For more information about computer security, other computer-related scams, and to review
previous cybercrime alert notices and cyber-crime prevention flyers visit the Army CID MCU
website at https://www.cid.army.mil/mcu-advisories.html. To report a crime to Army CID, visit
www.cid.army.mil.