Scammers prey on COVID-19 concerns

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Scammers continue to be out in force, taking advantage of all aspects of the coronavirus pandemic.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare says a woman in Loudon in ordered masks and gloves online last month, yet they still haven’t arrived.

She can’t get back in touch with the company supposedly sending the gloves and masks; it seems as if scammers are focusing their attention on social media sites, where they lure people with either promises of big money because of the virus or medical supplies to protect them from the virus.

Since the pandemic began Laurel has kept up with her family and friends on Facebook. She asked that we not use her last name.

On Facebook, she found an ad for masks and rubber gloves which she wants to wear as protection when leaving her home which she hasn’t done often recently.

“Well, I’m not supposed to leave my home. I’m 80 years old. Actually, I’m 81,” Laurel said.

From a website out of China, Laurel ordered latex gloves, protective masks and disposable masks on April 24 for just under a hundred dollars. She said the payment was made by credit card. Laurel said she expected the goods within few weeks. A day after her order was made, she started receiving tracking information.

“On May 4th they said they’re in Los Angeles and they had been cleared… For shipment, but nothing since. When I try to go their site. It says, ‘Ooops! What happened? This shop is unavailable,’” Laurel said.

“You have to take it slow. You need to do business with people that you know and companies that you recognize,” Tony Binkley, President/CEO – Better Business Bureau of Greater East Tennessee, said.

Binkley says other people like Laurel have filed complaints with be BBB about ordering virus test kits or medical supplies … waiting for weeks ago with no delivery.

“If you wire the money or use a payment app or debit card you will never see that money again,” Binkley said.

“This has never happened to me before I feel kind of stupid,” Laurel said. She checked on her order at the post office a few hours ago.

Apparently, others are waiting for their medical products from the Chinese supplier as well.

Laurel showed us statements of customers who ordered their supplies in April, they haven’t yet received them and now they can’t get in contact with the company. She has gotten in contact with her credit card provider to dispute the purchase.

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