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

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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.”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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