MICHIGAN, USA — The Michigan Attorney General's office and the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan are warning everyone about scammers and COVID-19 tests. It's happening both in-person and online, with officials saying there are fake drive-thru testing sites and misleading at-home test kits out there.
People are reporting to the agencies that they never get their results back after shelling out their personal information and cash.
"Just like how COVID-19 never ends, COVID-19 scams never seem to end either," Attorney General Dana Nessel says.
At-home, rapid COVID-19 test kits are hard to come by lately, and that's exactly what Nessel says scammers are preying on right now.
"(People) want a result and they want to know right away," she says. "They can't work if they have COVID-19. They want to make sure they're healthy and their families are healthy."
Both the Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau are reporting an increase of fraudulent test kits out there, where either a test kit is ordered but never arrives or results are never delivered back. Nessel says she ran into something suspicious herself, too.
"The (test kit) box came without instructions, so you were supposed to log on and provide all kinds of details about yourself," she says. "Your medical insurance, social security number and other things. Right away I knew that wasn't right, so I shut it down."
The Attorney General's office is worried that tests aren't even real and giving out false negatives or positives. Officials suggest looking up the brands of the test kits before purchasing or using them.
"People should be very, very careful of these," Nessel says.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan is looking into a Chicago-based company that might be running a shady operation here in town.
"(These scammers) are setting up the fake sites and it's usually to gather information, like steal your identify, or take money from you," Communications Specialist Katie Grevious says. "Whatever is happening is not good. We're potentially looking at multiple locations around Grand Rapids and West Michigan where this company in particular that's affecting us is running drive-thru rapid testing and people aren't getting results."
She says there are multiple red flags to look out for, like if a company can't provide enough contact information to get ahold of someone for help, if they can't share with you background information about their company or if they can't tell you how they plan to process your test.
Both the Attorney General's office and the BBB suggest going through your primary care provider or local health department to find a legitimate place to get a COVID-19 test. If you think you might have been scammed, they're urging you to report it so they can shut it down.
"Although people are embarrassed and it's scary, it's helpful for them to come forward," Grevious says.
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