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Attorney General Cameron warns of potential scam related to mail containing PPE

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Posted at 2:38 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 15:09:31-04

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Attorney General Daniel Cameron and U.S. Attorney Rob Duncan are warning Kentuckians of a potential scam related to unsolicited packages from foreign countries.

Kentuckians who receive unsolicited packages containing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks or face shields, should report the packages to the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection by calling 1-888-432-9257 or by completing a scam complaint form online. Kentuckians should also report the information to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security's Intelligence Fusion Center by calling 1-866-EYE-ON-KY (1-866-393-6659).

The Attorney General's Office has received reports from Kentuckians who received unsolicited packages with return addresses from foreign countries. These packages contain personal protective equipment such as face masks and shields and may be part of what is commonly known as a brushing scam. These scams are often used by third-party sellers to obtain five-star reviews for their products. Companies who employ this scam send inexpensive items to U.S. residents' homes and then write a review of their product using the resident's name and address.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, scammers are evolving to prey on the concerns of Kentuckians by mailing unsolicited PPE," said Attorney General Cameron. "We encourage anyone who receives a PPE product that they did not order to report it immediately to our Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257 or by visiting https://ag.ky.gov/scams."

Adair County Sheriff Josh Brockman and Martin County Sheriff John Kirk worked with the Attorney General's Office this week to report that residents in their respective counties received unsolicited PPE packages in the mail. It is recommended that Kentuckians do not use unsolicited PPE items, as the quality and origin of such things cannot be verified.

"Kentuckians should remain vigilant in guarding against potential scams, including receiving unsolicited packages from unknown senders," said Robert M. Duncan Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "If you receive one of these packages, please report it to the Consumer Protection Hotline."

In past years, brushing scams have been used by scammers to bolster the ratings of their products, but consumer protection agencies are only now starting to see PPE used as part of the scam. Brushing scams may indicate that an individual's personal information or identity has been compromised. If you believe you may be the target of a brushing scam, we encourage you to take the following steps to protect your identity:

  • Change your password on all e-commerce sites.
  • If an unsolicited package arrives in a box with a company logo or branding, contact the company's customer service and report it.
  • Report the incident to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline by calling 1-888-432-9257 or report the scam online by visiting https://ag.ky.gov/scams. The information should also be reported to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security’s Intelligence Fusion Center by calling 1-866-EYE-ON-KY (1-866-393-6659).

This potential scam is believed to be unrelated to unsolicited packages from foreign countries containing seeds. If you receive an unsolicited package containing seeds, please visit the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's website for the next steps and guidance from Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles.