COVID- 19 Online Scams Alert

Many individuals have been ordered to shelter-in-place and work from home due to the COVID-19 virus. While this may be an adjustment for some, for others it is an opportunity to prey on those most vulnerable online. Internet scams have been around for years, but with more people at home and online, scammers have been using the pandemic for their own personal gain.

A common scam seen online lately is known as “sextortion.” While it most commonly affects preteens and young adults, anybody on the Internet can be victimized and should be on the lookout for signs of a scam. With this scam an e-mail from the “hacker” will explain victims computer has been compromised; that their webcam has been hacked into and has been recording them watching sexual content. The fraudulent e-mail will usually include a password the victims have used in the past, making the threat seem real. The scammer will typically ask for money or threaten to release the recording to all of the victim’s e-mail contacts.

It is important to remember: sextortion is illegal. Please contact your local police or call the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Consumer Environmental Protection Division at 916-874-6174. Any person victimized by this type of scam should save all of the original e-mails and immediately contact local law enforcement. There are some preventative measures that can also be taken to ensure safety online:

  • Do not share your passwords with anybody.

  • Do not use easy to guess passwords such as pet’s names, birthdates, or anything that can be easily by reviewing your social media.

  • Do not click on any links in e-mails. This is a very easy way for your device to be compromised.

  • Teens should be educated on the need to report such threats. It can be a stressful and embarrassing situation for a young teen—talk to your teens about online safety and encourage them to come forward should they receive a suspicious e-mail.

  • Some low-end devices (such as baby monitors or nanny cams) may have one central log on that can be exploited by anyone. Beware of the recording devices you bring into your home.

  • Always assume your webcam or recording devices can be activated remotely. Never have your phone or other electronic camera devices pointed at you while undressing or in a position you would not want to share with the world.

  • You should always use a cover you can slide over your webcam or simply a sticker or piece of tape to cover the

  • webcam when you don’t want it filming.

Being cautious, aware, and educated about online scams can help prevent falling victim of one. With the increase of time being spent on the internet during the current shelter-in-place order, now is the best time to learn preventative measures and spread awareness about potential scams lurking online.

Enforcement of Public Health Order in Sacramento County – April 15, 2020

Since the Public Health Order went into effect on March 20, 2020, Sacramento area law enforcement agencies have primarily taken an education-based approach to gain voluntary compliance when addressing violations of the Public Health Order. While education continues to be the primary focus of all agencies when it comes to violations of the Health Order, law enforcement agencies in Sacramento County will now also take enforcement action on violations of the Public Health Order that clearly put the health and safety of our communities in jeopardy. This includes the cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Citrus Heights, Folsom, Galt, Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County Parks Police, Fulton-El Camino Parks, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. Each of the police chiefs and Sheriff have continued to collaborate on a measured and balanced approach to enforcement of the Health Order in Sacramento County.

On April 12, 2020, Sacramento Sheriff’s Office and Sacramento Police Department responded to multiple reports of “sideshows” that occurred throughout Sacramento County. These incidents involved estimates of 100 or more people gathered closely in the streets and resulted in one collision into a police vehicle. These sideshows are not only dangerous, but are an obvious violation of the Public Health Order.

Over the past three weeks, law enforcement agencies in Sacramento County have also responded to calls involving large house parties and other gatherings that were clearly in violation of the Public Health Order.

Events like these undermine the efforts of our communities which have worked hard to make a difference in this health crisis. Because of this, in addition to citing appropriate vehicle code and penal code violations, law enforcement agencies throughout the Sacramento region will begin conducting enforcement on reoccurring or blatant violations of this Health Order.

“We know that the vast majority of our community will continue to comply with the Public Health Order, and an educational approach will still be effective,” said Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn. “This move towards limited enforcement addresses those that blatantly put the community at risk by engaging in obvious violations of the Public Health Order.”

“It is important for folks to understand that all of Sacramento law enforcement is united in our desire to keep our communities safe, and in our willingness to enforce the order against unreasonable violations,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones also stated.

Health and Safety Code 120295 states that violating either a state or a local isolation order constitutes a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine between $50 and $1,000. Each day of violation is a separate offense with jail and/or a fine between $50 and $1,000.

Government Code 8665 provides that anyone who violates, refuses, or willfully neglects to obey any lawful order or regulation during a State of Emergency is guilty of a misdemeanor. The penalty for a violation of this code is up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

The Public Health Order directs that there should not be gatherings in any formal setting. To report a violation of the Public Health Officer Order, call 3-1-1.

Press Release

COVID- 19 Health Crisis and Looting Alert

The State of California is currently under the Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 Virus.  Whenever federal, state, or local authorities declare a state of emergency, the criminal penalties for common shoplifting and theft are greatly enhanced under California’s looting law.

California Penal Code section 463 makes violations of this law punishable criminally by incarceration in county jail prison for up to three years and a fine of up to $10,000, with a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in county jail.  If the stolen item is a firearm, the sentence shall be served in state prison.  The statute applies to any person entering any building or structure with the intent to steal any property, no matter its value.

Sacramento County DA Schubert Warns Against Price Gouging During State of Emergency

The State of California is currently under the Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 Virus.  Whenever federal, state, or local authorities declare a state of emergency, it is unlawful to raise prices for essential consumer goods and services by more than 10% of the existing prices immediately prior to the declaration of emergency.

California Penal Code section 396 makes violations of this rule punishable criminally or civilly with punishment of up to one year in the county jail and a fine of up to $10,000 or a civil penalty of up to $2,500 per violation. The statute defines essential consumer goods and services broadly, including but not limited to medical supplies, emergency supplies, food, fuel, lodging, transportation, pet food, repair services, construction services, building materials, and housing rental prices.

The general rule is that any seller of certain items may not charge more than 10% over the price that was being charged just before the emergency was declared.  Most consumer goods normally used for personal, family, or household purposes, including coupons or gift cards used to purchase the goods, are covered.  This includes:

Consumer food items

Repair or construction services

Emergency supplies

Medical supplies

Building materials

Gasoline or other fuel

Transportation, freight, and storage services

Any rental housing with an initial lease of less than one year, including mobile home parks and campgrounds

Hotel and motel rates

There are two exceptions to this.  One is if that if the item was on sale when the declaration was issued, the 10% rule applies to the normal price.  The other is if there is an increased cost to the reseller due to extra labor or costs, or due to additional costs imposed by the supplier to the reseller, then the reseller cannot charge more than 10% more when taking into account those additional costs.

Here is what to look out for:  Anything priced more than 10% over what the price was before the declaration – so any sudden price increases.  Also use caution when dealing with resellers on websites like Craigslist and Nextdoor.  Amazon and eBay have indicated they have taken steps to prohibit this by blocking new resellers of these types of goods.

Complaints regarding price gouging can be filed with the District Attorney’s Office Consumer Protection Division at this link:

https://www.sacda.org/in-the-courtroom/consumer-environmental-protection/consumer-unit/consumer-fraud-complaint-form/