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FBI warning people after seeing a massive rise in COVID-19 scams

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Posted at 2:42 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 17:29:06-04

(WXYZ) — The FBI is releasing an urgent message to metro Detroit to avoid scammers looking to cash in on the coronavirus pandemic.

FBI Detroit Special Agent in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono said he has also been personally targeted by email and phone scammers, trying to sell protective equipment or a phony COVID-19 test.

He's reminding you to never give up your personal information, or credit card numbers, when the person or agency asking for it isn't someone you know.

“Through your email, your computer or phone calls too. There’s a lot of phishing scams that try to get you to click on a link. If you don’t recognize it don’t click on it. I’ve gotten several myself," he said.

He said some scams are specifically trying to prey on fears of seniors, or anyone else who may have health problems. In some cases, scams come as warnings about suspicious activity or as messages from banks who you don't have an account with. Also, be on the lookout for scams involving the coming stimulus checks.

“The IRS or government is not emailing asking for you to give them personal info for stimulus checks. They’re going to use what’s already in their system to send a check," D’Antuono added.

The FBI said the scams are at an all-time high because many know people are at home during the day. Scams could also include mail scams.

If you think you've been targeted, call the FBI right away.

“This is a high priority for us. If someone thinks they see a scam or know someone, please get a hold of us and use tips.fbi.gov.”

The Michigan AG, also says watch out for scammers posing as workers from local health departments, offering testing or meditation, even calling from what appear to be legitimate phone numbers.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

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See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.