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News Release

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Media Relations

Caution: COVID-19 Related Crimes NR20083rc

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department's Commercial Crimes Division, Organized Retail Theft Unit Detectives are urging the public to be aware of potential deceptions, identity thefts, and scams designed to defraud them of their stimulus money. The following information is provided to assist the public in identifying and avoiding any such criminal endeavors.

Stimulus Checks: The government issued Economic Impact Payment, commonly known as a "stimulus check", is not a check at all. It's a payment made by direct deposit, from the IRS, into an individual's checking account. No forms are required, and the Federal government won't ask payment up front to process the payment. The IRS will simply deposit the money, and they've begun this process for many Americans already. Anyone calling, or knocking on your door, regarding your stimulus check is likely an identity thief.

In-Home Covid-19 Test Kits: There are no commercially available in-home tests for COVID-19 that consumers can purchase. There are no consumer services offering "in-home testing" at this time. Please do not trust anyone offering to sell tests to individuals, or to test anyone in the privacy of their home. They could be a burglar, identity thief, or scam artist.

Cures and Vaccines: There are no consumer products that treat or cure the COVID-19 virus. There is no current vaccine for the corona virus. Anyone attempting to sell a cure, treatment, or vaccine for corona virus is attempting to scam individuals out of their money.

Calls and Emails: Be particularly aware of emails, texts and calls claiming to be from health or government officials regarding your health. These calls may be an attempt to obtain your credit or personal information. Emails may tempt consumers to click on links that install malware of various kinds on their computers.
Price Gouging: Individuals or businesses selling COVID-19 related products at exhorbitant prices are committing a crime. Consumers who observe this activity should report it to the police.

Prevention: Please follow guidelines to remain at home, to wash your hands, to engage in social distancing, and remain safe. Be vigilant for anyone attempting to sell you "snake oil" cures, treatments, tests, or vaccines. Please be careful of anyone attempting to obtain your personal information, and avoid any suspicious COVID-19 email links.

Anyone who knows about any attempts to defraud the public related to the COVID-19 pandemic is asked to contact Commercial Crimes Division, Organized Retail Theft Unit, Detective Todd Booth or Detective Dondee Stout at 213-486-0928. During non-business hours, or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may also visit www.lapdonline.org and click on "Anonymous Web Tips" under the "Get Involved-Crime Stoppers" menu.Tipsters may also download the "P3 Tips" mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.


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