This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)
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LOWELL — Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian warns residents to beware of COVID-19-related scams, including the sale of fake test kits and vaccines.

“It’s important for all residents to be aware of this type of fraud,” Koutoujian said in a news release. “The criminals who carry out these scams target residents of all ages and economic backgrounds.”

The FDA has not yet approved any vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a ‘quick fix,’” the FDA warns on its website.

In addition to the sale of fake test kits or advice on unproven treatments, the IRS has reported scams involving Electronic Impact Payments, according to a news release. And the FBI has reported an uptick in the use of stolen identities to file fraudulent unemployment claims.

Callers have also posed as law enforcement, threatening to “arrest for things such as failure to perform jury duty, failure to pay taxes or Social Security-related fraud, and attempt to either extract money or personal information which they can later use to commit other crimes,” Koutoujian announced.

Koutoujian urges victims of identity theft to contact law enforcement, state unemployment agencies, the IRS, credit bureaus and their employer’s human resources department.

The Department of Health and Human Services encourages community members to be wary of unexpected calls, or requests for personal information like Social Security numbers. HHS also warns against opening hyperlinks from unknown individuals.

For more information, visit hhs.gov, or refer to this HHS video.