GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been a number of scams targeting different groups. Well now, one of these scams is actually targeting employers.
We’re talking fraudulent COVID-19 tests. Scammers are now shopping around tests that say positive on them so people can call off of work and get paid leave. But at what true cost?
“When they sent us the version of the document, we would look at it … ‘oh, no, this didn’t come from us,'” said Kristen Hoover, the Onslow County Public Health Director.
Fake COVID tests are hitting the market as scammers encourage people to try and dupe their employers. The fake tests can be bought from criminals who then put forged signatures and fraudulent letterhead on the test, making it seem like it came from a lab.
“We don’t want individuals who are out for no good trying to mess up the process for other folks who are really working hard every day and trying to do everything they can to get through a really tough situation for our society,” said Hoover.
Hoover also said these tests can also really mess with healthcare workers trying to get through their work each day.
“In public health, we are very busy just dealing with the sheer volume of testing results that we have coming in. So when we get questions of potential fraud from an employer, it kind of slows down our daily process,” said Hoover.
So how are these scammers reaching out to people? We came across a message on Instagram offering us a fake COVID test to help get two weeks of paid time off. The scammer then directed us to an account that outlined the test would cost him $60, meaning more money in their bank.
Hoover says this can really have a snowball effect.
“One bad egg or one person that would be trying to set up a fraudulent situation like that can snowball quickly, and cause a lot of others to have to be out of the office setting based on exposures,” said Hoover.
Hoover also mentions it messes with HR professionals and employers because it starts to draw a blurred line around HIPAA privacy.