Scammer morality is a bottomless pit: there's no depth limit to how low a scammer will sink while trying to make a dishonest buck.
So it's no surprise that various scammers are using fear of the Ebola virus as bait to try ensnaring victims. In just the past two days, both the Feds and a state attorney general have issued official warnings about Ebola-related scam come-ons.
On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission warned about scam-medicine peddlers who claim to have a cure for Ebola.
FTC blogger and “Consumer Education Specialist” Colleen Tressler wrote on Oct. 9 that:
Banking on fear, scam artists are making unsubstantiated claims that products containing everything from silver to herbal oils and snake venom can cure or prevent Ebola. Not so, says the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration. … There are currently no FDA-approved vaccines or drugs to prevent or treat Ebola. Although there are experimental Ebola vaccines and treatments under development, these are in the early stages of product development, have not yet been fully tested for safety or effectiveness, and the supply is very limited. There are no approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for Ebola available for purchase online or in stores. No dietary supplements can claim to prevent or cure Ebola … If you’ve seen companies or products touting these claims, report them to the FTC and FDA.
(Generally speaking: any supposedly miraculous medicine or drug, not just Ebola-specific stuff, that claims to work thanks to silver, colloidal silver, snake venom or herbal oils is almost certainly a scam. Other scam-medicine buzzwords you should know to look out for: “quantum,” “harmonics” or “harmony,” “vibrations,” “frequencies,” “succussion,” “homeopathic,” or anything that promises to flush dangerous yet unspecified “toxins” out of your body.)
Then, today, the Illinois attorney general's office issued a warning about Ebola-related email scams (and, although Illinois is so far the only state to issue an official warning, there's no indication these emails are being sent only to Illinois residents).
The AG's office warned that it has seen or received several scammy Ebola-related emails, two basic scam varieties in all. Of course there are scammy emails trying to sell fake Ebola cures or Ebola protection equipment, but even more ominous are the emails presumably (but not really) from some official government authority, offering links with labels like “Ebola Pandemic update” or “civilian crisis protocol,” but of course if you click on the link you'll get all sorts of nasty malware infecting your computer.
If you see any strange email with any Ebola-related subject heading, your best bet is to delete it without opening it first. And remember: in the event that your local, state or federal government authorities issue public warnings about Ebola or any other public-health threat, these warnings will not be sent via unsolicited emails.