7 On Your Side: Don't get taken by Ebola scams

Nina Pineda Image
Friday, October 17, 2014
7 On Your Side: Don't get taken by Ebola scams
Nina Pineda has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There's no shortage of ways that the fear about Ebola can motivate you to part with your money. But this is proving to be much different than what usually pops up after a natural disaster.

More than your handful of questionable charities, there are new ways some will use the pandemic to scam you. To start, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating what they call a questionable Ebola cure.

"It is said there is no treatment against Ebola, and that is not true," said Dr. Rima Laibow in a hopeful video posted on YouTube.

Dr. Laibow heads up the Natural Solutions Foundation, selling what she calls a nutrient named "Nano Silver 10 parts per million." She touts it as a "safe, non-toxic, inexpensive...and available solution to Ebola and every other communicable disease."

This week, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission labeled the Newton, New Jersey-based National Solutions Foundation as scammers, sending out a warning letter that the therapeutic claims made on their website are a violation.

Eyewitness News spoke to Dr. Laibow, and she says since they've received the warning letter, her organization has made many changes to the language on their website. Now their videos contain lengthy disclaimers. But she said the scam label is "ridiculous."

On the website, one 16-ounce bottle is on sale for $24.95, but it's apparently very popular because it's out of stock.

"This is an example of what happens when there are crisis like these," said Identity Theft 911's Adam Levine.

Levin says people panic, and that leads to making uniformed decisions.

For example, Levin warns about Ebola-related stock swindles.

These, he says, are phone calls from companies claiming to be developing an Ebola vaccine, seeking your investment.

"They have to play on your fear, your greed and the immediacy of the situation," Levin said. "I can get you in on this stock now."

Levine says check with the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission to make sure a stock is legit.

Next, an urgent hard sell via phone or email for an Ebola charity is a red flag.

"Tugging on your heartstrings, help the victims of this ravaging disease," Levin said.

He also advises researching charities before donating.

GoFundMe.com, the leading crowd-funding site, has more than 120 Ebola-related charities raising money. Already, one set up for the second nurse to treat the Ebola patient in Dallas was found to be fake.

"It was investigated, determined it was fake and pulled down," Levine said.

Other ways to prevent falling prey to an Ebola scam is to think before you click. Ebola is trending right now. Don't be so quick to click on videos or websites that may contain malware or be designed to hijack your personal info.

Also, hang up the phone. The majority of scams come in the form of a cold phone call. Before you part with any money or personal information, hang up, research and call back if you want to donate.

Lastley, do not wire money. No legitimate charity gets their funds via Western Union.