Taking advantage of the fear of COVID-19 and consumers’ desperation to outsmart the disease, many companies have made false claims about their products. Georgia is cracking down.
The threat of being exposed to the coronavirus and contracting COVID-19 is very real. It is also scary; there have been nearly a million deaths from the disease worldwide and many of those who have contracted the disease and survived are still suffering complications, some of which may be long-term. As such, there is good reason to fear the virus and to take action to protect oneself. Unfortunately, not all of the advertised safety measures are real.
Companies Seek to Make a Profit
Capitalizing on consumers’ fears and desires to protect themselves from the disease, many companies have set out to make a quick profit by selling scam products. For example, consumers have been inundated with claims that high-dose vitamin C will cure the virus; that hydroxychloroquine will cure the disease; that taking elderberry gummies with zinc will stave off any illness; and even that bleach-like cleaners (when consumed) can treat the disease! Those are not the only scams; fake PPE and fake test kits have also been circulating the web. There have even been reports of scammers selling Social Security numbers in order for people to apply for business relief funds or unemployment benefits.
State Cracks Down on Fraudsters
Such schemes are not only fraudulent, but potentially dangerous to consumers, too in that they could create a false sense of security and protection, resulting in a consumer using a so-called miracle product failing to engage in social distancing and other safety measures. In some cases, the remedy may be dangerous in and of itself, such as in the case of consuming disinfectants.
Since March, multiple Georgian companies have been warned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about making false claims. Funding has also been allocated to Georgia State University with the purpose of tracking sales of fraudulent items. Some products have also been banned by federal agencies, such as a chemical-filled lanyard that claimed to prevent its wearer from getting COVID.
How to Recognize Fraudulent Products
While staying healthy and taking your vitamins could help prep your immune system for the virus, there is currently no approved cure for COVID-19. An article on how to protect yourself from counterfeit COVID-19 merchandise and other scams recommends keeping an eye out for red flags and only buying from reputable sellers, like big box stores. Look for consumer reviews, and don’t buy from an overseas or unrecognized seller.
Making False Claims is Against the Law
As the state of Georgia begins to crack down on fraudulent products, it is important to know that making false claims is against the law. If you are facing criminal charges related to a COVID-19 scam, you should protect yourself by hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer. At the office of Ghanayem & Rayasam, our attorneys can help. Call us today or send us a message for your free consultation.