Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn renewed a call today for a crackdown on fraudulent COVID-19 testing sites.
Hahn sent a letter to the county Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, asking the agency to monitor pop-up testing sites to ensure people aren’t falling victim to fraud.
“It is despicable that people are taking advantage of communities during a deadly pandemic,” Hahn said in a statement. “I am directing the county’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to monitor pop-up testing sites across the county and shut down any sites that are defrauding the public.
Testing is one of our most important tools during this pandemic and residents need assurance that they will get accurate test results and their information will be protected.”
Hahn said six testing sites in South Gate and Bell Gardens were recently found to be fraudulent and shut down by authorities. Some bogus sites charge people for tests without sending the results and others ask people for their Social Security numbers.
Earlier this month, Supervisor Kathryn Barger introduced a motion asking county staff to develop an enforcement plan for cracking down on fraudsters as well as an educational campaign to alert the public to the risk and point them to legitimate resources.
“It is imperative that the board ensure residents can be confident that they are receiving an accurate and a legitimate test without risking their private information,” Barger wrote in the motion. “These (fraudulent sites)are popping up on street corners.”
Hahn urged people to only go to sites that are legitimate, and a list of locations can be found at covid19.lacounty.gov/testing.
The Federal Trade Commission sent out an alert this month warning about fake at-home tests being offered online. The FTC cited the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in warning Americans that “fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand.”
The FTC offered the following tips:
- Check the FDA’s lists of antigen diagnostic tests and molecular diagnostic tests before buying;
- Conduct a web search for the seller’s name or website along with “scam,” “complaint” or “review”;
- Compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites;
- Pay by credit card so that you can later dispute the charge if necessary.
California is also moving against price gougers taking advantage of the surging demand for test kits. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order that prohibits sellers from increasing prices on at-home test kits by more than 10%.