Fake contact tracers selling virus test kits, public warned

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has warned the public against conmen who introduce themselves as members of contact tracing teams (CTT) to scam unsuspecting victims into handing out payment for corona virus test kits.

Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that legitimate contact tracers never demand money since their task is to track down close contacts with COVID positives.

He said reports reaching the DILG showed that unscrupulous individuals are sending text messages or making calls telling people they are identified as close contact of an alleged COVID patient then ask money for the cost of a testing kit.

“We ask the public to be vigilant. Huwag po tayong basta-basta magtitiwala sa mga taong tatawag o magtetext para humingi ng pera. Pag may pera na po sa usapan, scam na po iyan,” he added.

More than 69,000 contact tracers are being deployed nationwide.

The DILG official said it is very unfortunate that amid the public health emergency, there are people who take advantage of the crisis and make money out of it.

Malaya said that these scams were reported by the DILG Region III.

“Hindi nila ibibigay ang impormasyon about the alleged person na nag-positive [for COVID-19], sasabihin nila na they will violate privacy laws kuno,” he said.

At that point, the scammer would insist on having the victim tested within the next 72 hours.

“Pagtawag nila sa isang bahay, they will advise the person to self-isolate at magpa-test within 72 hours. Siyempre ito namang biktima will agree to undergo testing,” he said.

The caller will then ask for the address of the victim where the supposed testing kits will be sent.

“Kapag naibigay mo na ang address mo, dito na sila magsisimula sa kanilang modus,” Malaya said.

The scammers priced the test kits at $50 each.

“Kapag tumanggi naman yung tao, pagbabantaan sila na they will face penalties for not undergoing the coronavirus test,” Malaya said.

In case of such incidents, Malaya advised the public not to panic and report immediately to the nearest police station or call the DILG through Hotline 911 and the DILG-Public Assistance and Complaint Center at 8925-0343.

“We are currently beefing up our contact tracing capabilities nationwide to serve more Filipinos for free kaya hinihikayat po natin ang ating mga kababayan na ireport po ang ganitong mga panloloko sa mga kinauukulan,” he said. JOEL DELA TORRE