Town Manager Austin Faison and Police Chief Terence Delehanty are warning residents to be wary of potential scams tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, and are offering tips to help the community avoid falling victim.
Residents should not partake in any COVID-19 testing from door-to-door solicitors, people who approach them at grocery stores or other community venues, solicitors who call requesting financial information in return for a test or mail COVID-19 test offerings.
Town officials warn that residents should NEVER give personal information, medicare numbers, money or home access to people soliciting tests. If a testing kit is mailed to you, you should not accept the test. Return the test to the sender and alert local authorities immediately.
Chief Delehanty also is warning residents that individuals operating a scam may pose as a member of the Winthrop Police or Fire Department seeking a monetary donation pertaining to COVID-19. Neither the Winthrop Police or Fire Department is accepting these donations at this time, and if a resident is approached by an individual claiming to be a member of either department seeking such a donation, they are encouraged to contact the Winthrop Police Department.
“Unfortunately, often when there is a crisis or natural disaster, scams are often tailored to that event, and we’re seeing that this has also happened with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chief Delehanty said. “We want to make sure residents are aware that this is happening, and take the necessary steps to protect themselves from falling victim to these scams.”
The Massachusetts’s Attorney General’s Office provides these tips for residents to protect themselves from other scams and frauds:
• Watch out for high-priced or low-quality products; report any retailers that inflate prices on products like hand sanitizer and face masks.
• Beware of false and misleading information being spread online. Use reputable sources such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
• Keep an eye out for unauthorized or fraudulent charities or solicitations. Before donating to a coronavirus charity, make sure the charity is legitimate.
If anyone has questions or feels like they have been victimized, they are encouraged to call the Winthrop Police Department at 617-846-1212.
Massachusetts residents who believe they are victims of fraud or other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact the United States Attorney’s Office at [email protected] or call 1-888-221-6023 and leave a message. Members of the public can also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov.