The Madera County Sheriff’s Department is again asking residents to be wary and verify any official-looking information they may see on social media websites or get as forwarded information, after a fraudulent letter mandating COVID-19 testing for all residents receiving state benefits has been circulating online.
The fraudulent notice, posted on official-looking letterhead apparently cut and pasted from an actual State of California Social Services letter, attempts to get recipients to call a phone number and supply their personal information. The letter goes farther when it threatens to terminate state benefits for anyone that fails to comply with the order to get tested for the COVID-19 virus, even stating that minor children in the homes could also be removed and placed into temporary foster care, an outrageous, untrue claim that plays on parents worst fears.
Mandatory testing not required for state benefits
Deputy and Public Information Officer Sarah Jackson said there is no mandatory COVID-19 testing requirement and this fraudulent and misleading information is damaging, playing on peoples fears. People need to know that it’s important to verify any official looking information, Jackson said, especially ones that request residents call a phone number to provide names, addresses or any other personal information.
“This fraudulent letter is being circulated on social media with varying letterhead from counties all over the state. A simple search shows several county letterheads pasted onto this document. We (at the Madera County Sheriffs Department) have serious concerns over this kind of misinformation. It sows fear and distrust in the general public at a critical time, and makes the work of Rapid Contact Tracing and Public Heath difficult,” Jackson said.
Jackson said no one should respond to this or any forwarded, or online phishing ploys on social media and urged everyone to protect themselves from scammers by being alert for these types of fraudulent attempts to obtain their personal information, and to get their information from only verified, official local sources.