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Look out for COVID-19 scams, false advertisements

Posted at 10:37 PM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 22:37:51-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As word about new coronavirus cases continues to spread, so are rumors and false remedies.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned seven companies about their ads for products promising to help combat coronavirus.

The companies include: Vital Silver (Colloidal Vitality), Quinessence Aromatherapy, N-ergetics, GuruNanda, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy, and The Jim Bakker Show.

Letters were sent to each, warning them they may be in breach of the FTC Act by making unvalidated claims.

“There are no approved vaccines, drugs, or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.” The agency says consumers should not purchase or use COVID-19 related products “that have not been approved, cleared or authorized by FDA.” So any companies making claims about their ability to fight COVID-19 should be not just taken with a pinch of salt, but altogether ignored, unless the science proves them right.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration

A large number of scams hoping to profit from the virus have also spread in recent weeks.

Spam emails have been trying to trick people into visiting websites with fake prevention tips and false information about coronavirus in their neighborhoods.

Amazon reports it's has kicked off 1 million products for making false COVID-19 claims.

Late last week, security company Malwarebytes warned about a website that claimed to show updated coronavirus cases on a global map, but was actually installing malware that tried to steal passwords and credit card information from visitors.

Health experts and government agencies have also battled disinformation and myths about preventing the virus.

According to Business Insider, the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health forced to warn citizens that cocaine does not cure COVID-19 after false claims went viral on social media.

Spanish news outlet El Nuevo Herald also issued a report stating that COVID-19 is not the same as the flu, cocaine is not the remedy, and to please wash your hands.

The Herald went on to say that top health agencies, like Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization, are struggling to deny these and other myths, and to explain that hand washing is the most effective measure to avoid the current coronavirus.