Whenever there’s fear, there’s an opportunity to deceive people.

Thus, it’s no shock that the state departments of consumer protection and public health — along with state attorney general William Tong — are warning residents that scam artists are taking advantage of the rising concerns about the coronavirus that has sickened 15 people in the U.S. and thousands globally.

According to a release posted Tuesday by the Department of Consumer Protection, scam artists “may post, email, and text to promote false information about ‘cases’ of the disease in your neighborhood that do not exist, and bogus prevention medication in order to obtain your personal information and your money.”

The department also warned of thieve who “may ask you to donate to victims through a sham charity or offer ‘advice’ about false treatments for the disease.”

To date, no one in Connecticut has tested positive for the form of coronavirus, called COVID-19, now circulating. Coronaviruses are actually a group of viruses that can cause everything from mild illness, such as the common cold, to severe diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

According to the World Health Organization, as of Monday, there were 71,429 cases of COVID-19 confirmed worldwide. The majority of cases are in China, where it was first reported. In China alone, 1,772 people have died from the illness.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that, as of Monday, 15 people had tested positive for COVID-19 — including one person in Massachusetts, the closest case to Connecticut to date.

The state Department of Consumer Protection offered multiple tips to avoid getting scammed by those taking advantage of coronavirus fears.

For example, the release states, those who receive a text of email claiming to have news about the coronavirus shouldn’t open it. Instead, they should turn to trusted sources, such as the CDC or the Connecticut Department of Public Health for updates.

Also, Connecticut residents are advised to ignore online offers for vaccinations or miracle treatmments, and to not donate to any organization claiming to help those ill from coronavirus without researching the organization first.

The state also told people to beware of scam investment opportunities involving “companies” that claim to prevent, detect or cure coronavirus.

“Whenever a topic is of high interest to the news, and to consumers – scam artists take advantage of the opportunity to get your attention,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull, in the release. “That becomes even more true when families are concerned about health risks. We want to encourage families to be more alert than usual, and to report any suspicious activity. Remember, the Department of Public Health is the most reputable place to find information about the coronavirus in the State of Connecticut.”

Connecticut Media Group