Scam Attempts Running High Amid Pandemic

OCEAN CITY — With every crisis comes an in-kind number of scammers attempting to prey on the fear and anxiety of others and the current coronavirus pandemic has been no different.

In recent weeks, more and more scams have surfaced preying on residents in Maryland and around the local region during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some reported scams are health-related, offering vaccines or remedies that simply aren’t available or even possible at this time. Others are financial-related, offering loans and other assistance.

U.S. Attorney for Maryland Robert Hur is encouraging all Marylanders to be aware of individuals attempting to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. Scams are being perpetrated on citizens all over the country including Maryland and right here on Delmarva.

For example, scammers recently sent out mass emails to people in Maryland purporting to be from a local hospital and offering coronavirus vaccines for a fee.

Other scammers are posing as public health officials and offering fake cures for the virus. Still others are using fake websites that appear to be legitimate, but are actually fake websites that infect users’ computers with harmful malware aimed at collecting personal information that can later be used to commit fraud.

“Fraudsters who are preying on citizens during this unprecedented public health crisis are reprehensible,” said Hur this week. “My office and the entire law enforcement community are committed to bringing fraudsters who prey on our most vulnerable citizens to justice. I urge citizens to remain vigilant and to be skeptical of any telephone calls, emails or websites that request personal information or banking information while promising money or services that seem to good to be true.”

Meanwhile, Delmarva Power officials said this week the utility company has seen a spike in potential scams targeting energy customers during the crisis. Scammers are threatening to shut service off or are offering cash and credit incentives to obtain personal financial information.

“It is unfortunate that scammers are using the public’s concerns around health and financial uncertainty to deceive and harm our customers,” said Derrick Dickens, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer of Pepco Holdings, the parent company for Delmarva Power.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.