Watch out for coronavirus scams on social media

(HealthDay)—Social media has been rife with pretend well being merchandise and monetary scams through the coronavirus pandemic, a brand new examine finds.

1000’s of posts have touted unlawful or unapproved testing kits, untested therapies and purported however counterfeit cures, in keeping with researchers who analyzed posts on Twitter and Instagram.

“From March to Might 2020, we’ve recognized practically 2,000 fraudulent postings possible tied to pretend COVID-19 well being merchandise, monetary scams, and different shopper threat,” mentioned lead writer Timothy Mackey, an affiliate adjunct professor of medication on the College of California, San Diego.

There have been two waves of posts for unproven cures and faux testing kits, and a 3rd wave is now showing. Markey predicted it is going to worsen when officers announce an efficient vaccine or therapy(s).

The examine was not too long ago printed within the Journal of Medical Web Analysis Public Well being and Surveillance.

“We’re in a post-digital period and as this growth of digital adoption continues, we’ll see extra of those fraudulent postings concentrating on customers as criminals search to make the most of these in want throughout instances of a disaster,” Mackey mentioned in a UCSD information launch.

He supplied recommendations on how one can determine fraudulent merchandise or scams:

  • If it is too good to be true, it most likely is. Be cautious if there are mentions of bulk or fast gross sales, low cost pricing and questionable claims comparable to U.S. Meals and Drug Administration approval or particular certifications.
  • It is most likely unlawful to import merchandise comparable to COVID-19 checks from overseas. Such purchases needs to be thought of dangerous.
  • If the vendor is doing enterprise or transactions by means of social media direct messaging or a communications app—together with Skype or WhatsApp—it is most likely not official.

“We advocate that anybody involved of contracting COVID-19 or hoping to be examined first work with their private well being care supplier or native public well being company to make sure secure entry to testing or therapy, and report any suspicious exercise to federal authorities,” Mackey mentioned.

“Our hope is that the outcomes from this examine will higher inform social media customers to allow them to higher decipher between fraudulent and legit posts,” he added. “We performed this analysis with the aim that ultimately it is going to result in improved instruments and coverage adjustments in order that social media can be utilized as a pressure for good.”

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