Police, state's attorney say be on alert for coronavirus scams

Updated 4/1/2020 6:29 PM

Suburban police departments and state agencies are warning people to be on their guard for coronavirus phone and online scams.

Some scammers are trying to sell bogus COVID-19 products, while others claim to be government officials collecting personal information as part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus plan, authorities said.


"In any time of emergency or crisis, most people will focus their energies on helping others or the greater good, but there are some in our society who will prey on people's fears and goodwill," Naperville police Cmdr. Mike Son said in a YouTube video aired by the department Tuesday.

Son said the department is aware of telephone and email scams touting home testing kits and bogus cures.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul urged consumers Monday to exercise caution before responding to solicitations tied to the pandemic for money or personal information.

Tori Joseph, a spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, said several residents have filed complaints, including one woman who'd received a text message telling her to click on a link to obtain the $1,000 allotted to her from the government to help her through the outbreak. Joseph said another woman reported receiving an email from someone who claimed to have test positive for COVID-19 and needed $3,500.

Gurnee police Detective Shawn Gaylor said residents have reported receiving calls from people offering coronavirus-related medical services or insurance.

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In a post Gaylor made on the Gurnee Police Department Facebook page Monday, she urged people not to be duped by scammers using the federal stimulus package as a way to steal personal information.

"You do not need to do anything to claim your money. Do not respond to emails or letters, click on links, or provide information during phone calls," Gaylor said. "The money will be distributed in the same manner you receive your tax refund. Electronic refunds will be automatically deposited into your bank account."

Son said people should also be wary of potential scammers going door to door pretending to be home cleaners or of people who pose as representatives from banks or charities.

"Treat every COVID-19 related email and phone call with necessary caution," Son said. "Make sure you're doing business with sources you can confirm are reputable."

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