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New resource in Alameda County to report COVID-19 related scams, hoaxes

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ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – As if we did not have enough to concern ourselves with, police say there are now people perpetrating COVID-19 scams and hoaxes.

The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office now has a new way to report COVID-19 related crimes.

The COVID-19 pandemic can bring out the best in people and it can unfortunately bring out the worst in others. 

In some cases, people going door-to-door pretending to be county workers conducting coronavirus tests or in other situations fraudulently calling residents seeking money.

“We’ve seen some innovative scams. Some of them had to do with people trying to get money to get loved ones out of jail who had COVID-19. There was another scam out of San Francisco that we saw. Seen some price gouging and things like that,” Sergeant Ray Kelly said. 

When it comes to fraudulent scams, Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Ray Kelly has just about seen them all but a recent incident involving a North Carolina man, Justin Rhodes, falsely claiming he tested positive for COVID-19 and that he intended to spread the virus by going to crowded big box stores was beyond the pale.

“We saw that video. Obviously it was very disturbing and sure enough it turned out, in some of the research that we done, that it was a hoax and that it was out of North Carolina. You cannot perpetrate a hoax that endangers public safety or causes fear and panic. I’m glad those authorities in North Carolina were able to figure that out,” Kelly said.

Justin Rhodes was arrested for felony perpetrating a hoax and disturbing the peace. 

Should something like that happen in Alameda County, there is now a resource that can be used to report any COVID-19 related hoax or scams.

“If we get something like that people can go to COVID-19 compliance at acgov.org and we’ll look into complaints like that or any other complaints people have,” Kelly said. 

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