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New Study Says Increase in Fake Posts and Scams Linked to COVID-19

Have you encountered any financial scams and fake posts on Twitter or Instagram lately?

The Journal of Medical Internet Research Public Health and Surveillance published a study recently. Their study revealed that countless coronavirus-related scams have spread on social media during the pandemic.

The researchers discovered that around 2,000 posts on Twitter and Instagram contained unreliable products or “treatments” related to the virus. These scammers were advertising products that have no proven health benefits. On the other hand, some of them are selling unapproved testing kits or other unsupported COVID-19 related cures. 

According to the researchers, these untested products and purported cures could expose consumers to health risks and scam people out of money.

“From March to May 2020, we have identified nearly 2,000 fraudulent postings likely tied to fake COVID-19 health products, financial scams, and other consumer risks,” said lead author Timothy Mackey, an associate adjunct professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

More Fake Posts and Scams to Come

Mackey and his fellow researchers claimed that another batch of posts for fake testing kits or unproven cures will circulate social media once officials announce an effective COVID-19 vaccine or treatment.

“We’re in a post-digital era and as this boom of digital adoption continues, we will see more of these fraudulent postings targeting consumers as criminals seek to take advantage of those in need during times of a crisis,” Mackey added.

Below are the red flags consumers can watch out to avoid being a victim of a fraudulent product:

  • Mentions of bulk or rapid sales
  • Cheap pricing
  • Questionable claims, such as FDA approval or specific certifications.
  • Products, such as COVID-19 testing kits, are imported from abroad. 

Mackey also said that if a product is claimed to be purchased from abroad, it“should be considered risky.” 

For consumers who are worried about being infected by COVID-19, the best way you can do is to “first work with their personal health care provider or local public health agency to ensure safe access to testing or treatment,” Mackey stated. 

“Our hope is that the results from this study will better inform social media users so they can better decipher between fraudulent and legitimate posts,” he added. “We conducted this research with the goal that eventually it will lead to improved tools and policy changes so that social media can be used as a force for good.”

Have you seen any fraudulent products or posts about COVID-19? Let us know!

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Editor’s note on Increase in Fake Posts and Scams Linked to COVID-19

This piece is written to inform consumers about the recent study involving the Increase in Fake Posts and Scams Linked to COVID-19. If you have questions regarding this news, send us a message.

We’d be happy to help you take a step in the right direction, fight this issue, and better enable you to join in on any potential consumer class action. If interested, please send an email to Outreach@ConsiderTheConsumer.com, find us on Twitter or Facebook, or even connect with us directly on our website! We look forward to hearing from you all.

Similarly, please check out our current list of Class Actions and Class Action Investigations, here.

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