Archive for the ‘FBI’ Category

BBB Alert: Want a COVID-19 test? There’s a scam for that

Thursday, January 6th, 2022

By Better Business Bureau

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning people of fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments as the pandemic continues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, since the arrival of the Omicron variant, the increase of testing for COVID-19 has become a concern. Scarcity often leads to potential scams for a product that doesn’t exist, the compromise of personal identifiable information, or the increase of deceptive advertising.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning last year about potential fraud related to the antibody tests. Scammers are selling unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, which can give inaccurate results. In doing so, they are also collecting personal information, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. They may also be stealing health insurance or Medicare information that can be used in future schemes.

How the scam works

Robocalls are sent out to consumers directing them to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company offering COVID-19 tests. These tests allegedly identify if a person has been infected with coronavirus – even if they’ve  recovered. Some even promise results in 10 minutes. However, to receive a test, a credit card or a form needs to be completed with personal information.

In some cases, the test involves an easy at-home testing kit. Other times, the tests are allegedly offered through a clinic. But in all versions, the person or website selling the test is short on details. They aren’t willing or able to provide any information about how the test works, where it is sourced, and what laboratory processes it.

Don’t fall for it! These tests are not US Food and Drug Administration approved and will not give accurate results. In fact, requestors may never even receive an actual test kit. Either way, scammers will have made off with the money and personal information.

In a new twist, Newsweek reports that scammers appeared at a testing site in Florida and conducted fake tests to people standing in line, as a ruse to get their personal information.

How to avoid fake coronavirus tests and related scams

  • Want a test? Talk to your doctor. Reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help figure out if the test will be covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic.  If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.
  • Research before buying. Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before agreeing to anything, investigate first. Research any claims the company makes. Start with searching BBB.org to see they are BBB Accredited, have good reviews, and if there are complaints or scam reports associated with their business name. In addition, review the warnings on FBIFederal Trade CommissionAttorney General’s office, and BBB ScamTracker.
  • Understand all options: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available.
  • Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust. Be wary of anyone approaching you in line; ask for credentials if necessary. If you suspect  your personal information has been compromised, report it to identitytheft.gov
  • Check claims of FDA approval. Per the FBI, “Not all COVID-19 antibody tests have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their efficacy has not been determined.” Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.

For More Information

BBB has additional tips for avoiding scams on BBB.org/spotascam and the BBB news feed.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others to stay alert and avoid similar scams.

 

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Contra Costa DA files charges in Antioch 2015 homicide cold case, three more in Concord

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Result of years-long Operation by FBI Safe Streets Task Force

By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa County District Attorney

Martinez, Calif. – Today, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office is announcing three homicide cold cases, involving multiple defendants who are gang members affiliated with the Sureños, were filed recently. The gang violence was focused in South Concord and near Monument Boulevard. This successful effort was due to the years-long investigation and operation led by the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and local partners, including Concord Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office of Northern California, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms along with our Office. Two cases were filed last week, and one was filed yesterday, totaling four homicides involving 11 defendants. (See related article)

One of the homicides occurred in Antioch, and the victim was from Pittsburg, (See related article). The other three of the homicides occurred in Concord.

Operation Boulevard Blues culminated in a major law enforcement operation last Thursday that resulted in the arrest of 31 individuals and involved 31 different law enforcement agencies. Thirty-four search warrants were executed in multiple locations across Contra Costa County and 42 firearms were recovered. The details of the operation were announced earlier this morning with our federal partners.

“Our local efforts working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners, especially Concord Police, will keep our community safer and take violent gang members off the streets of Concord,” said District Attorney Diana Becton. “This successful operation started with a wiretap and led to multiple gang members involved in senseless murders and violence being arrested. While these cases were not solved right away, Concord Police and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force did not give up and fortunately we can bring some closure to the victims’ families.”

Overall, the DA’s Office filed three separate homicide complaints involving the following gang members of the Sureños – all of the alleged four homicides were done for the benefit of the gang:

  • People v. Michael Valdez, Andrew Cervantes, Daniel Rodriguez, Docket Number 01-194377-8

o   Victim is Marcos Villazon of Pittsburg, Date of Alleged Murder is November 21, 2015 in Antioch

o   Victim is Luis Estrada, Date of Alleged Murder is November 30, 2015 in Concord

  • People v. Rafael Lopez & Juan Barocio Jr., Docket Number 01-194379-4

o   Victim is Victor Gutierrez, Date of Alleged Murder is April 17, 2014 in Concord

  • People v. Jose Cisneros, Marcos Ochoa, Luis Cruz, Aurelia Mendez, Antonio Mendez, Jose Ochoa, Docket Number 01-194418-0

o   Victim is Erick Cruz, Date of Alleged Murder is September 12, 2015 in Concord

The criminal investigations because of this operation are still active and ongoing. All of the defendants charged by the DA’s Office remain in custody.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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