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Mayor, District Attorney & City Attorney Highlight Resources Available to Avoid Scams and Prevent Abuse

Officials Urge San Diegans to Protect Against Coronavirus-Related Scams, Seek Help for Domestic Violence

Thursday, April 23, 2020 – NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – To help protect San Diegans from predators during this global pandemic, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer joined District Attorney Summer Stephan and City Attorney Mara Elliott Thursday to highlight resources available to San Diegans related to scams and abuse in a time of crisis.

“As this public health crisis evolves, San Diegans need to make sure they are taking steps to prevent fraud and abuse from predators trying to take advantage,” Mayor Faulconer said. “We know that stressors like sheltering in place, job loss, and the closure of schools can exacerbate domestic violence and its important families know there are resources available to help you just as there are resources available to prevent falling prey to online and phone scams.”

The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions of individuals globally. As the federal government begins economic impact payments from the recently passed federal stimulus, San Diegans have reported scams, ranging from telephone scams with people impersonating Internal Revenue Service agents to fake organizations requesting donations for the World Health Organization.


  • Economic impact payment scams: The IRS will deposit your economic impact payment into the direct deposit account you previously provided on your tax return or send you a paper check. The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. San Diegans are encouraged not to give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information – even if someone claims it is necessary to get your economic impact payment. If you receive a call stating otherwise, San Diegans are encouraged to hang up.
  • Charity scams: Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money, don’t do it. San Diegans are encouraged to do their due diligence when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites.
  • Fake organizations: Consumers should be on alert for criminals who may set up fake websites, send emails, or post on social media pretending to be from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an attempt to profit illegally.
  • COVID-19 vaccines scam: Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy unproven products to treat or prevent the coronavirus disease online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for COVID-19.

“As San Diegans struggle to respond to the pandemic, they shouldn’t have to also worry about becoming victims of crime,” District Attorney Stephan said. “We rely on reports from San Diegans across the county to stop greedy price gouging and fraudulent schemes. We stand ready to protect consumer rights under the law and we will strictly enforce violations.”


In addition to resources available to protect San Diegans against scams during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Family Justice Center (SDFJC), although its physical offices remain closed, can still provide important services to avoid tragedy and connect vulnerable citizens with life-saving services.

The SDFJC is the only comprehensive provider in the city, offering services ranging from forensic medical examinations to legal advice to counseling services. All services provided are confidential, free, and available to anyone in need. The SDFJC partners with other agencies that are equally committed to serving clients even in a global pandemic.

The services of the SDFJC are particularly important now that San Diegans have been ordered to stay home in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, some may be forced into confinement with abusers. With schools closed in the county, children who otherwise may have avoided witnessing violent altercations may also be caught in the crossfire. Given the pandemic has affected many financially, this also provides an opportunity for an increase in violence, something experts have long recognized and warned.

“Stay-at-home orders don't mean you have to stay at home with an abuser,” City Attorney Elliott said. “We at the Family Justice Center know abusers are using the public health crisis to further isolate their victims and that stressors associated with COVID-19 can exacerbate violence at home. We are here to help victims escape to safety and receive the comprehensive services they need to heal and move on with their lives.”

For updates on City of San Diego services, programs, links to helpful information related to preventing fraud and abuse, please visit sandiego.gov/coronavirus.

For information regarding COVID-19 cases and directives from County of San Diego public health officials, please visit coronavirus-sd.comText “COSD COVID19” to 468-311 for text alert updates.

A statewide “Stay-at-Home” order is in effect until April 30. For more information on the order, including what’s closed, what’s open and which industries are exempted by the state, please visit COVID19.ca.gov.


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