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COVID-19 fraud is rapidly evolving. This page is frequently updated.

Last updated: November 23, 2020

https://youtu.be/cAfrHJwpE4g

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Scammers are using social media to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams. In one major scheme, fraudsters hack social media accounts and send direct messages to beneficiaries while posing as a friend or government employee. The impersonator claims the person is eligible for government grants (citing various reasons like COVID-19, disability, etc.) and urges the them to call a phone number to collect the funds. Upon calling, the beneficiary is asked to pay a “processing fee” (using bank account information, gift cards, bitcoin) to receive the grant money. In return, targets of this scam never receive any money, but often large sums of their money are often stolen from them. These alleged grants are entirely illegitimate.

Fraudsters are also continuing to offer COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate.

In another fraud scheme, some medical labs are targeting retirement communities claiming to offer COVID-19 tests, but actually drawing blood and billing federal health care programs for medically unnecessary services.

Also, fraudsters are offering people a $200 Medicare prescription card when no such cards currently exist.

Fraudsters target beneficiaries in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits.

These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harm. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill Federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft. If Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test billed by a fraudster, the beneficiary could also be responsible for the cost.

Protect Yourself

  • Beneficiaries should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their Medicare or Medicaid numbers or personal/medical/financial information. Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately. Keep in mind that if your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes.
  • Do not respond to, or open hyperlinks in, text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.
  • Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, ensure the location is an actual testing site.
  • A physician or other trusted healthcare provider should assess your medical condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.
  • Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number, financial information, or attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test.
  • If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud, report it immediately online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

Report the Scam

HHS-OIG Fraud Hotline
(800)-447-8477
or Online