Scammers capitalizing on Ebola fears, NY AG warns

Posted at 1:06 PM, Oct 21, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-21 13:06:40-04

NEW YORK (PIX11) –– That’s not Ebola. It’s a scam.

Phony prep kits, fake fundraisers and even bogus medications are being used by fraudsters to take advantage of proliferating concerns over Ebola, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday.

“New Yorkers should beware of fundraising solicitations and offers of goods and services related to Ebola,” Schneiderman said. “Scammers are shamefully exploiting this moment of heightened concern about public health to defraud good people. These frauds detract from the positive work of the brave medical professionals fighting this disease and the charitable spirit of New Yorkers looking to help out.”

Schneiderman urged New Yorkers to pay close attention should they be asked to donate to a cause or buy a product related to Ebola.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from scammers:

  • Do your homework: Know that there are no vaccines or medications that prevent or treat Ebola, which is spread through direct contact with the bodily fluids — for example, blood, urine, feces and saliva — of someone who has the disease. It is not airborne or spread by water. The only way to not get Ebola is to avoid the bodily fluids of someone who has Ebola — not use a prep kit.
  • Donate to reputable charities only: You can find legitimate charities by searching the Better Business Bureau’s website
  • When in doubt, don’t: Phishing scams are commonly used to trick victims. If you don’t recognize an email address, don’t open it. If you receive a link you didn’t ask for, don’t click on it.
  • Pay attention to detail: Scammers often use names and logos similar to legitimate charities to trick their victims.
  • Report it: If you believe you’re the victim of a scam or are being targeted by a scammer, contact Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau at or (212) 416-8402. If someone tries to sell you fake medicine, tell the Food and Drug Administration.

The vast majority of Ebola cases worldwide have been clustered in West Africa, specifically in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

More than 4,555 people, mostly in those West African nations, have died from the disease, according to the latest numbers from the CDC.

In the U.S., one Ebola patient has died and two nurses who had direct contact with that patient have contracted the disease.

A man traveling from Liberia to the United States became the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed on U.S. soil. Thomas Eric Duncan became sick several days after arriving in Dallas and died at a hospital there.

Two nurses who treated him also contracted the illness and are recovering.