If you got a COVID-19 test in the bay of an abandoned, burned-out Jiffy Lube from a lab technician named Skeeter who asked way too many personal questions, you may have been scammed.
The Better Business Bureau asked me, a semi-trustworthy regional media figure, to warn you, the faithful newspaper readership, about a new con: phony websites and suspicious in-person testing sites used to collect personal and insurance information.
Here’s how it works, according to the Better Business Bureau email I failed to delete:
Several websites appear after an online search for a COVID-19 testing site in your area, and a testing clinic affiliated with a local pharmacy or a pop-up run by a local group is selected.
In one version of this scam, you arrive at the testing site and are asked to complete a form with personal information, your driver’s license and medical insurance cards are photographed. Then, a swab is done and a promise is made that test results will arrive within a short time.
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Unfortunately, the test is a fake and the results never arrive. It was an excuse to get your information.
In another version of this con, you complete an online appointment form with personal, insurance and medical information. In some cases, a small fee is paid. But, on the day of the appointment, the pharmacy has no record of your reservation. Again, the phony form was a way of phishing for personal information.
Right now you are probably wondering this: How can I, part of the faithful newspaper readership, know the difference between a real testing site and a fake testing site?
As a semi-trustworthy regional media figure, I am here to help in the following question-and-answer format:
Question: Hi, Scott. Thanks for taking my question. I was on my way to my brother-in-law’s the other day to borrow his belt sander when I passed by that old Jiffy Lube. You know, the one that nearly burned to the ground when that fellow brought in the truck with the Carolina Squat and set a bunch of oily rags on fire with his tailpipe.
There was a cardboard sign out front that said “Today Only: COVID Tests and Used VHS Tapes.”
I remembered that my brother-in-law was trying to complete his “Lethal Weapon” film collection. Plus, I had ignored nearly every bit of expert scientific advice for nearly two years, putting those around me at risk due to my own selfishness, so I pulled in to kill two birds with one stone, which, ironically, once got me a citation from a game warden.
There was a fellow standing there in a lab coat holding a clipboard.
I said, “You look familiar. Aren’t you the guy who used to sell Rolex watches at the flea market on the other side of town?”
He said, “No, that was my twin brother Jeeter. I’m Skeeter, certified COVID lab technician” which matched up with the “Hello, my name is” sticker on his lab coat.
Then he asked me a bunch of health-related questions like, where do I do my banking, what’s my ATM pin number, what was my mother’s maiden name, what was the model of the first car I ever owned. Stuff like that.
Then he said, “Step over there toward the edge of the bay near that box of VHS tapes, take off all your clothes and I will swab you real good.”
I thought, “Well, that’s a bit unorthodox but he is a certified COVID lab technician, says so on his sticker, so who am I to question his medical procedures?”
Do you think there is a chance I was scammed?
Answer: It’s a possibility. The Better Business Bureau says only visit authorized testing sites or health centers. Those can be found by contacting your state or local health department.
Question: One more thing. Is a quarter too much to pay for a copy of “Lethal Weapon 4?”
Hollifield is editor/general manager of The McDowell News in Marion, North Carolina, and humor columnist. Contact him at email@example.com.