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Times of crisis and emergency don’t just bring out the good in all of us – they can also bring out the worst in humanity. Such is the case now, as the coronavirus known as COVID-19 is spreading; scammers are coming out like bugs from under a rock.

CitronellaAnt from under a rock. Image courtesy of Orkin.

During a Colorado State AARP conference call earlier this week answering questions from callers about the virus, ways to protect against getting the virus, and tips for staying safe, the topic was deemed so important that it was the subject of a presentation by the National Center for Disaster Fraud Division, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

“You have to report suspected fraud – fraud never takes a holiday,” said AARP Representative Jeremiah Mora. “At times like this we always see scammers increase their activity. Just realize that scammers are always trying to make a quick buck off people’s fears. Don’t believe them.”

He went on to point out the typical kinds of messaging that constitute fraud. “If you get a call or an email or are approached about cures for the coronavirus, or special vitamins, or prevention you can take to avoid getting it – things they say will prevent you from getting it — those are all fake. All of them. There isn’t a cure, there isn’t any vaccine yet.”

Not only are the fake cures out to take your money with no health benefit, he pointed out another danger right now.  Those contacting people, talking about cures, or asking to verify your information so you’re first in line – they aren’t just out to steal your money — they want your identify.

“They get your information and use that for their advantage,” said Mora. “The Department of Justice want retirees to be aware of those scams. The best line of defense we can tell you is – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.”

A call to the Colorado AARP offices fraud hotline added another caution. “I had to stop at a store for an errand at the customer service desk and a woman in front of me was getting a money order,” said the AARP help line attendant. “I heard the clerk ask her – ‘is this money order going to someone you know?’ I was so glad to hear her ask that. It’s one of the common scams – these scammers calling unsuspecting and trusting seniors with fake needs, or scaring them that something will happen to a loved one if they don’t send a money orders immediately.” It’s one of the most common frauds.

Those who want to know more about the Department of Justice work being done to protect consumers from fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, can go to

If you know of a scam, or think you have been scammed, the federal government gives people two ways to report it to the National clearing houses for scams:

  • Call National Center for Disaster fraud hotline at 866-720-5721
  • Email the National Center for Disaster at

Or call AARP at (866) 554-5376 to be connected to their fraud reporting network.

AARP is planing two more, free coronavirus information calls:

11 a.m MDT Thursday, April 9 Call in number to join the call: 1855-274-9507

11 a.m. MDT April 16 Call in number to join the call: 1855-274-9507


Another helpful resource on scams is available here.