COVID-19 FAQ – New York Coronavirus Scams

Crime Victims Team April 04, 2020



Last updated: April 14, 2020

Scams related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) are emerging across New York at an alarming rate. If you are a victim of a COVID-19 scam please feel to reach out to Empire Justice Center!

Rochester:      inforochester@empirejustice.org   or       1 (585) 295-5929

Long Island:   infolongisland@empirejustice.org    or      1 (631) 650-2324

Yonkers:          infoyonkers@empirejustice.org




Q. Will I be getting a call regarding when I will receive my Stimulus Check?

Many people across the United Stated are receiving phone calls, texts or emails asking for their personal or financial information to get the $1,200 federal payment (or other amount, depending on one’s circumstances). Online solicitations may include links to websites that look official but are scams. Some may ask for your bank account, PayPal, or other financial information with promises of depositing your check into your account. If you receive these texts or emails, do not reply; ignore them, and delete them. Never click on links because you might download malware onto your computer. Any requests for personal information to get your check are not legitimate.  If you filed your taxes in 2018 or 2019, you do not need to do anything. If you did not file your taxes, the IRS is creating a simple form for you to complete which will be available at https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus soon.


Q. Are scammers trying to steal information from recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

Scammers are using the COVID-19 situation to steal personal information from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. In one potential scam, a website asked SNAP recipients to enter their personal and bank account information to qualify for COVID-related monetary assistance. If SNAP participants are unsure if a request for information is legitimate, USDA advises they contact their local department of social services.


Q. Are Social Security Benefits continuing the same as before the coronavirus crisis?

The Social Security Administration is not taking any new actions to reduce, suspend, or delay any benefits during this period, although automated actions may continue. If an individual receives a communication threatening to suspend or discontinue benefits because SSA offices are closed, this is most likely a scam, and should be reported to the Inspector General. You can contact Empire Justice Center for Assistance in reporting to the Inspector General.


Q. Are scammers targeting Medicare & Medicaid beneficiaries?

Scammers are targeting Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, offering COVID-19 testing in exchange for personal details, through a number of ways, including calls, social media, emails, and door-to-door visits. 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, the beneficiary could be responsible for the cost.


Coronavirus Specific Scams

Forbes reports that New York is one of three states experiencing high coronavirus scams. Such scams include:

Testing scams: In addition to the targeting of Medicare and Medicaid recipients noted above, fraudsters are selling fake at-home test kits or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money. Some scammers send emails stating that the World Health Organization is sending free COVID-19 at-home tests and all the individual must do is pay for shipping. This is not true. There are currently no FDA-authorized “at-home” COVID-19 tests available. Do not pay for an at home test.


Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake cures including holy water, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19. There is currently no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. Do not pay for a COVID-19 vaccine or cure.


Supply scams: Fraudsters are setting up fake shops, websites, social media accounts, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies, scammers take the money and never provide supplies. Be careful of paying for supplies from distributors you do not know.


Provider scams: Scammers are contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment. Do not provide a payment to any doctor or hospital calling you. Hang up. If you believe the caller may have been legitimate, call your friend or family member and ask if they were recently treated, if they’re insured, and if they received a bill for their treatment.


Charity scams: Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19. Be sure to research any individual or organization before you make a contribution. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Scammers will try to rush you, but a legitimate organization will be happy to provide you with information and receive your donation when you’re ready.


Investment scams: Fraudsters are offering online promotions via email and on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks, or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information. Do not fall for these investment scams!


To stay informed about informed with legitimate information about health, finances, and more, visit the official websites of the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York State Department of Health, and the New York State Department of Financial Services coronavirus information page. For information regarding coronavirus scams in New York you can also visit the website of New York State Attorney General Leticia James.


If you or a loved one has been a victim of one or more of these COVID-19 scams, please feel to reach out to Empire Justice Center! We are here to help our fellow New Yorkers!


Rochester:      inforochester@empirejustice.org or 1 (585) 295-5929

Long Island:   infolongisland@empirejustice.org or 1 (631) 650-2324

Yonkers:          infoyonkers@empirejustice.org


Please note: Do not send us any nonpublic information about any legal matter for which you seek legal representation until we request that you do so. Empire Justice attorneys will inform you if and when your matter is considered for legal representation. Until that time, any information you provide WILL NOT be considered confidential, and NO attorney-client relationship is formed by communications received through this website. Any information available on the website is for general legal education purposes only, and is not legal advice.