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Warning: Robocallers are offering phony Coronavirus cure

Colorado Attorney General warns of COVID-19 scams
Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 21:00:55-04

Attorney General Phil Weiser has issued a consumer alert warning for Colorado residents about scams related to Coronavirus. Investigative Reporter Patrick Nelson shows us how a growing list of con artists taking advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Many of us expect to be spending more time at home which means we may have more time to answer the phone, but if the person calling is offering something too good to be true treatment or even a cure to the Coronavirus, consumer experts say hang up.

Recent reports and studies have identified Colorado as one of the worst states in the country for robocalls. Consumer protection experts are warning you may get some additional calls in the coming days with someone on the line trying to offer you an opportunity to buy drugs that can help treat or even cure Coronavirus.

The robocallers say they are from a Canadian pharmacy, but often have United Sates phone numbers.

At NBC Bay Area Consumer Investigator Chris Chmura was able to get one of these robocallers on the phone.

"What is it exactly your company is saying it will do for Coronavirus?," Chmura said.

The man on the phone replied, "I told you it will reduce the risk."

"It would reduce the risk?, Chmura asked.

"Yeah, it will slow down the progress of the Coronavirus," said the caller.

You may not want to trust that caller. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no medicine to prevent, treat, or cure coronavirus is currently available. Drugs are still in development.

NBC Bay Area also found the robocallers were selling a generic malaria treatment called Choloroquine. The CDC says it's a common drug in India.

The suggestion is you should follow the U.S. federal trade commission's advice and ignore these offers. Just wait for word from health officials about prevention and treatment.

Colorado's Attorney General Phil Weiser had this to say about what we should expect for Coronavirus scams going forward.

"Scammers take advantage of natural disasters and emergencies," said Weiser. "By learning how to avoid scams related to coronavirus, we can work together to ensure no one in our state is taken in by these malicious attempts to defraud Colorado consumers during this public health emergency."

One of the best ways to help our neighbors stay a step ahead of the scammers is to report them when they happen.

To report fraud, scams, and even price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General's Office call 800-222-4444 or visit stopfraudcolorado.gov