Is that COVID-19 test you found online a fake?

Florida’s Attorney General warns consumers to watch out for COVID-19 testing scams

Make sure the COVID-19 at-home test kit you get online is the real thing, Florida's attorney general warns

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Is that COVID-19 test you ordered online real? Or what about the pop-up testing site that promises no long lines near your house? What about the caller who claims they can come to your house without a wait and easily give you an at-home test?

Florida’s attorney general is warning Floridians that there are cons taking place as the increase in people seeking ways to get tested for COVID-19 surges due to the rise in the omicron variant.

There are recent reports in Florida and nationwide of potential fake COVID-19 testing sites, imposter health care workers at legitimate sites and at-home testing scams.

“With the recent rise in the number of people seeking COVID-19 tests comes an increased risk that scammers will try to take advantage of the demand. Please take precautions to protect your personal information when seeking a test—whether at a legitimate site or when purchasing an at-home test,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said.

At-home test precautions

Before purchasing one of these tests or providing personal information to companies offering at-home testing services, particularly online, follow these steps to verify the legitimacy of the product:

  • Only purchase products from a well-established, legitimate store or website.
  • Search online for the brand name of the test and any complaints.
  • Beware of private companies that offer free or reduced cost at-home testing services, particularly if those companies require private information to make an appointment.
  • Another con call could be someone on the other end of the phone saying they can come to your home to administer a test with no waiting. This could be a tactic to get inside your house.

The Food and Drug Administration has a listing of COVID-19 related warning letters to companies who have been ordered to stop selling certain at-home test kits, such as the Easy Rapid Now COVID-19 Nasal Swab Antigen Test (Collodial Gold). That warning letter was sent to a company in Delray Beach in December of 2021.

Hallandale Beach Police previously received reports of people knocking on doors offering tests and kits and posted a warning on Twitter.

Officers warn of COVID-19 door-to-door- testing scam

Pop-up COVID testing site scams

In addition to at-home test scams, there have been recent reports of suspicious COVID-19 testing sites popping up. The sites appear legitimate but are designed to steal personal information from unsuspecting test seekers. In Sarasota, law enforcement received reports of suspicious individuals impersonating health care workers at a legitimate testing site asking test seekers to provide personal, financial and medical information.

Signs of illegitimate, pop-up testing sites include:

  • Having no affiliation with local medical providers or government entities.
  • Not delivering test results.
  • Workers seeming uninformed about the testing process.
  • Volunteers that are unmasked or not following current Center for Disease Control and Prevention point-of-care guidelines and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s standards during interactions with patients.

Below are questions to ask to help spot a testing-site imposter:

  • Are they dressed the same as the other health care workers on site?
  • Are they interacting with test-seekers within the established test site area?
  • Can they accurately and correctly answer questions without seeming nervous or confused?
  • Do they pressure test-seekers for personal or financial information?
  • Are health care guidelines and standards being followed?

FDA’s website provides an updated list of fraudulent products and warning letters of firms who have been reported for selling these fake products.

To view the list, click here.

Anyone who suspects a COVID-19 vaccine-related scam should report it to local law enforcement, or to the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.


About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.