CAPE ELIZABETH — The Cape Elizabeth Police Department warned residents about a potential scam that local officers and the FBI are seeing that involves the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a post on the police department’s Facebook page, “Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Don’t let them. Protect yourself and do your research before clicking on links purporting to provide information on the virus, donating to a charity online or through social media, contributing to a crowdfunding campaign, purchasing products online, or giving up your personal information in order to receive money or other benefits.”

The March 28 post advised that users never share username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information to an email or robocall. Making sure that names of websites are spelled correctly will also protect people from spam, “for example, an address that should end in a ‘.gov’ ends in ‘.com’ instead.”

“Watch out for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other organizations claiming to offer information on the virus,” said the police department.

The Federal Trade Commission website has more information on these types of scams and warned that many involve selling a fake cure for the coronavirus.

“The FTC and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus,” said the website. “The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver. The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims — as required by law. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.”

The Cape Elizabeth Facebook post said that the FBI has asked people to be wary of clicking on links and attachments in emails from unknown sources.

“Do not click links or open attachments you do not recognize,” the post said. “Fraudsters can use links in emails to deliver malware to your computer to steal personal information or to lock your computer and demand payment. Be wary of websites and apps claiming to track COVID-19 cases worldwide. Criminals are using malicious websites to infect and lock devices until payment is received.

“Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government. While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money.”

Many scammers asking for donations related to the coronavirus may be pushy or ask for gift cards, cash or funds transferred via wiring money, said the Federal Trade Commission website.

“Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites,” said the commission. “Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation.”

For more information, the Federal Trade Commission offers charity scams  page.

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