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Rumors that con artists and robbers have been going door to door pretending to offer COVID-19 tests have been stoking fear on social media since the beginning of the pandemic.
"Law enforcement and the Red Cross have advised that there are people going door to door indicating that they are authorized to do testing for Coronavirus," a trending Facebook post from April 2020 reads. "Do not let them in. Call the police! Please pass this on and alert families!"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The American Red Cross as well as law enforcement officials across the country and in the United Kingdom have responded to such social media posts by explaining that no authorized coronavirus testing was being conducted door to door.
The American Red Cross noticed widespread reports of this scam across the U.S. and in other countries on social media platforms at the start of the pandemic. In response, it posted advisories on social media throughout the spring to combat misinformation.
"Please know that the Red Cross is not going to people’s homes to offer coronavirus tests," the American Red Cross of the Texas Gulf Coast region tweeted on March 19, 2020. "If someone comes to your home claiming they work for the Red Cross and that they are authorized to administer coronavirus testing, do not allow them in your home."
However, these warnings are unwittingly fanning an unverified Internet rumor: there’s no evidence that this door-to-door scam was happening in the first place.
This is similar to other false claims that robbers were going door to door in Colorado Springs, Stockton, Calif., and Las Vegas pretending to be COVID-19 testers. Police in those cities said they received no reports of robbers pretending to offer coronavirus testing.
We did not find evidence of law enforcement warning against such COVID-19 tester scams.
We reached out to six other police departments in Tacoma, Wash., Tucson, Ariz.,San Diego, Calif., Santa Monica, Calif., Minneapolis, Minn., and Arlington Country, Va. Not one said they were aware of police reports about fraudulent door-to-door COVID-19 testers.
The Facebook post claimed that police and the Red Cross have advised that there are scammers going "door to door indicating that they are authorized to do testing for Coronavirus."
While the American Red Cross and some police departments in the U.S. have shared warnings against possible con artists pretending to be giving home COVID-19 tests, the post incorrectly portrays the advisory warnings as evidence of these scams.
We found no news coverage of robbers or scammers posing as COVID-19 testers, as the post describes, and nine departments have independently confirmed that no such incidents have also been reported to the police.
Because the claim contains an element of truth but leaves a misleading impression, we rate it Mostly False.
Facebook post, April 3, 2020
Office of Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, CDC and Other Health Officials Are Not Going Door-to-Door Performing Tests, March 20, 2020
Facebook post, Lorain County Sheriff's Office, March 18, 2020
ActionFraud, CTSI issues warning over COVID-19 'home-testing' scams, March 24, 2020
Twitter post, American Red Cross of South Florida, April 14, 2020
Email Interview, City of Tacoma Police Department, July 28, 2021
Email Interview, San Diego Police Department, July 28, 2021
Email Interview, Santa Monica Police Department, July 28, 2021
Email Interview, Minneapolis Police Department, July 28, 2021
Email Interview, Arlington Country, Virginia Police Department, July 28, 2021
Email Interview, Tucson Police Department, July 28, 2021
Email Interview, Jenelle Eli, Senior Director of Media Relations and International Communications of the American Red Cross, July 28, 2021
PolitiFact, "No truth to report about robbers posing as coronavirus testers" March 19, 2020
PolitiFact, "Beware of rumors of robbers posing as COVID testers," March 25, 2020
PolitiFact, "Another false claim of robbers posing as COVID-19 testers," March 30, 2020
Reuters, "Partly false claim: People are offering scam door-to-door coronavirus tests to rob people," March 24, 2020
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