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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Homeland Security warns crooks are using COVID-19 crisis to rip people off

Posted at 6:04 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 06:48:32-04

“I haven’t received unemployment in over 7 weeks,” said Stephanie Parker of Oxford.

Parker believes she knows why. Before the virus hit, her boss told her someone stole her identity and filed for unemployment. She and her boss reported it, but a crook's actions appears to have left her account frozen. As she searched on-line for advice, given her experience, she saw something that concerned her.

People offering to wait on hold for others, then include them in a three way call with the unemployment office. She says she worries it is a scheme to steal your identity.

“All of your information is going through both of those people,” she said.

She spoke to 7 Action News to raise awareness of the dangers of identity theft.

“There are people who don’t care and all they want to do is make a buck,” said Jared Murphey, an Assistant Special Agent In Charge with Homeland Securities Investigations in Detroit.

His team is investigating international schemes to rip you off, inspired by the coronavirus.

“There are people who don’t care and all they want to do is make a buck,” said Jared Murphey, an Assistant Special Agent In Charge with Homeland Securities Investigations in Detroit

One scheme is is seeing repeatedly is criminals are calling or texting, pretending to be the government assisting you in getting your stimulus check. The government in the meantime is not reaching out like that. It is simply sending you money.

Homeland Security investigations teams say if you are shopping be careful too. They have confiscated fake treatments and at home coronavirus test kits.

“Not only does the technology probably not yet exist, but it certainly hasn’t been approved yet by the FDA,” said Murphey.

The work Homeland Security Investigations agents are doing is important because it can be a matter of life and death, not only for you, but for our front line workers. Investigators have seized counterfeit PPE shipments before they ended up in a hospital.

“We’re really talking about keeping it out of the hands for the people it is really critical for. The doctors, nurses, first responders,” said Murphey.

To protect yourself, buy from a company you trust. Make sure any medical equipment or device is FDA approved. Read reviews to see what other buyers are reporting. Look closely at the logos, to see if they are real. If there are numerous misspellings, it may be a red flag. </p><p>

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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.

Find out how you can help businesses and restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

Also, get information about Rebound Mid Michigan, with stories, information and more about coming back from COVID-19

Join the Rebound Mid Michigan Facebook Group.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.