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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

What To Do If You Think You've Been Scammed During The Coronavirus Crisis

Ann Thompson
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Dave DeVillers.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are targets of COVID-19 scams. "Bad actors are messing with Americans' morale and sewing seeds of distrust," says U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Dave DeVillers. The Justice Department is helping to crack down on this fraud and has advice if you've been victimized.

If you suspect you have been hit with a scam, call the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) at 1-866-720-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov.

These scams can come in a variety of different forms:

  • Fake cures
  • Phishing emails posing as the WHO or CDC
  • Malicious websites offering up information on COVID-19
  • Criminals seeking donations from illegitimate or non-existent organizations
  • Medical professionals obtaining personal information for tests and using it to bill for other tests

DeVillers' office is investigating Ohio doctors who he says are stockpiling drugs that some say may work to treat COVID-19, like chloroquine.
"Don't do it. We're going to prosecute you for it. We're actively investigating a number of them now. The whole purpose of this is so there is enough medication to go to the people who need it. People who are suffering from the coronavirus but also the people who have lupus."

DeVillers says in one case a veterinarian is accused of prescribing the medication to dogs to hoard it.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.