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story.lead_photo.caption Helaine Williams ( Jeff Mitchell)

So now, as if coronavirus itself wasn't terrible enough, we have to worry about coronavirus-related online scams.

This, according to a Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) article in which that recent announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is repeated: It's a matter of when, not if, coronavirus would come to North America. (And it has). "While this is bad news for most Americans and Canadians, it's great news for scammers who are cashing in on our anxiety about the disease," according to the BBB. "Look out for fake cures, phony prevention measures, and other coronavirus cons."

Yes, now there are scammers who come as snake-oil salespeople, promising a miracle cure for this deadly virus. "No approved vaccines, drugs, or products specifically for coronavirus can be purchased online or in stores," stresses the BBB. Scammers are also pretending to be the CDC and the World Health Organization, sending out phishing emails to get people to download malicious software or donate to "a government program to develop a coronavirus vaccine." There are even counterfeit face masks sold by scammers, according to another BBB article.

Chances are, you're feeling nearly as weighed down by the threats to your limited funds as you are by the varied and sundry new threats to your life.

Online scammers have officially Left No Stone Unturned. We were concerned enough about them stealing our tax refunds.

Here are a few scams I'm surprised they haven't thought of yet (at least, not to my knowledge). These are culled partially from online lists of day-to-day hassles and stresses ... which, according to one Psychology Today article "are as toxic to our health as major life events."

• Fake email from the essentials-source store in which you spend the most time mumbling curses to yourself:

"Congratulation; you're the winner of our Shopper for the Day sweepstakes! Why wear yourself out shopping ... or risk porch thieves stealing your delivered groceries? For a small fee, we're shutting the store down just so you can shop without having to wait 10 minutes for that person in your way who can't decide what brand of trash bags to buy ... and you'll actually have time to ponder what veggies you want to buy for dinner without five other people waiting to shop the veggies you're standing in front of! And your purchases will be discounted/free. Just click on this link to fill out a form and pay a small processing fee ..."

• Fake taxi service/ride-sharing service/limo service email/call:

You have won free chauffeuring for a month or year, according to the scammer. A car and driver will be at your beck and call. You get to save the wear and tear on your hoopty, sit back in a luxury vehicle and ride while somebody else deals with the busy freeways, the cutter-offers and the non-signal users while being hopelessly caught between the Sunday drivers and the speed demons. And -- tah-dah! -- no parking hassles.

• Targeting those middle-age or older: The Twilight Zone Anti-Aging Episode scam:

"Hey, remember those episodes "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" and "The Trade-Ins"? To heck with the dangers of conformity and the beauty of love and sacrifice! We know you want that new cute body Marilyn Cuberle didn't want, and the young, strong bodies elderly John and Marie Holt had to walk away from because they couldn't pay for two. We can have you looking exactly like J-Lo, Beyonce. A-Rod, Jennifer Lawrence, Idris Elba ... "

• To borrow the title of another classic Twilight Zone episode: The promise of time enough at last:

"We will stretch your days for you! Sick of there not being enough time in a day? We'll expand your 24-hour day as much as 50%! Finish that work project! Get more errands done! Better yet, get more sleep!" (A variation of the above: "Wishing you could be two places at one time? Well, now you can! We can clone you ... ")

• I will look for your stuff. I will find it, and I will return it:

Scammers who promise to tell you where you misplaced all the stuff -- important papers, that pair of socks, last year's holiday decorations -- that you know you put someplace you'd be sure to find them, but which disappeared without a trace anyway.

Now these are scams I'd be more tempted to fall for than promises of money from foreign royalty, shakedowns from crooks pretending to be cops or the IRS, or people pretending to already have a cure for a disease. But, sigh, the chances that medical snake oil would work beat out the chances of us getting away from saggy body parts, driving hassles and lost stuff.

For more about the coronavirus scams, go to the Federal Trade Commission site, ftc.gov or bbb.org. And regarding scams in general: aarp.org has a lot to say about scams and fraud, outlining them according to category on its Fraud Resource Center page.

Be careful. Wash your hands. Stay healthy out there. And email:

hwilliams@adgnewsroom.com

Style on 03/08/2020

Print Headline: Scammers preying on uninformed

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