NORRISTOWN, Pa. (WLVT) —Scammers are working overtime to take advantage of senior citizens and they’re using COVID-19 as bait.
As con artists try to cash-in on coronavirus fears and confusion, Norristown Deputy Chief of Police Rich Clowser says senior citizens are a prime target.
"There’s a vulnerability factor. The elderly are more vulnerable. Some may not be able to recall things very easily, maybe they’re not as technically savvy as a younger person. Family and friends need to look out for their elderly family members," Clowser told PBS39.
He says if you come across anyone selling so-called coronavirus prevention products or cures — save your money. Just last week, the FBI found 14,000 fake Covid-19 treatment capsules and dozens of bogus testing kits at a Baltimore port.
"Don’t trust anybody that’s giving you information about a cure for Covid-19," said Clowser. "Reach out to a medical professional like your doctor. Ask them what’s best for you."
As seniors try to avoid large public spaces like grocery stores, some scammers are offering to shop for them. But instead of helping, they take the cash and never return with the food or medicine needed.
"If you can’t make it to a grocery store, I would rely on family or a caregiver, even a close friend. If those aren’t options, call your local area agency on aging and ask if they can offer any support," Pa. Dept. of Aging Sec. Robert Torres told PBS39. "Area agencies have been very good about that during this time to support older adults in Pennsylvania."
Before you donate to a coronavirus relief charity, Torres recommends verifying that the group is legitimate.
"You can use websites like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and the Better Business Bureau. Here in Pennsylvania, we have the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations, it's part of our Department of State. They can verify if a charitable organization is registered in Pennsylvania, which they need to be if they're soliciting," said Torres.
If you believe you were a victim of a scam, Torres says you should report it.
"Call local law enforcement to report it," said Torres, "or call the state Attorney General’s office Bureau of Consumer Protection."
The AG's Senior Protection Helpline number is: 866-623-2137