People Pretending to Be CDC Officials Are Knocking on Doors, Selling Fake Coronavirus Testing

Actual health workers testing for COVID-19 in Florida. Wilfredo Lee/AP

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

At this point, it should be no surprise that there are people out there trying to profit off of the coronavirus pandemic. Some of them are more shameless in their efforts than others. But reports of a new scam happening during this time of great fear and uncertainty takes it to a new level: People are knocking on doors, impersonating Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers, offering to test people for COVID-19 for money. 

The office of New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, sent out a release on Thursday evening alerting people to the new scam, which her office says has been happening to residents in the upstate New York county of Otsego, which includes Cooperstown. But the problem doesn’t seem to be limited to one county in New York. Local police departments in Ohio and Florida have received similar reports of a people knocking on doors, dressed in white lab coats, masks, and gloves claiming to be officials from the CDC or the Department of Health and offering to test people for COVID-19 for money. 

The scam has even made its way to South Africa. 

Though drive-through COVID-19 testing centers are starting to pop up around the country, the best way to be tested is to follow the guidelines provided by the CDC. “New Yorkers should know that no one from the CDC, or any other health agency, is knocking on doors to provide tests for the coronavirus for a fee,” James said in a statement. “We must remain vigilant against any scam designed to exploit people’s anxiety, especially during a global pandemic.”

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.