Suspicious people handing out fake COVID-19 tests at Sarasota testing site, trying to steal information, man says

Sarasota County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It appears people have found a way to capitalize on the current rush for COVID-19 tests in Sarasota.

The Sarasota Police Department got a report about suspicious individuals posing as staff and offering fake COVID-19 tests at the drive-through site at Ed Smith Stadium. They were also asking for people’s personal information, allegedly.

The man who reported the incident—who would only identify himself as Dave— told WFLA he was at the end of the line when a woman walked up to his car and handed him a Ziploc bag with a swab test. She asked for his phone, and had him scan a QR code.

“I don’t think medical professionals are actually wanting to touch your phone if I’m possibly Covid positive— it’s just not protocol,” Dave said. “She had no hazmat gear or anything like that.”

He opened the website, which asked him to fill out some information and then the woman asked him to swab his own nose.

“She wasn’t very specific about how to do the swab or any of that,” he said.  “I began to look at the website and it just didn’t look right so there are two red flags.”

Dave said the website asked him for his personal information, like his address, social security number and date of birth.

In the report, police said the website was run by Oak Crest Laboratory Services, Inc. CR Clinic LLC, appeared legitimate, and had numerous reviews. News Channel 8 is reaching out to the clinic for a response.

“It was pretty sophisticated in terms of the website,” Dave said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this is something that is happening around the state or even all around the country.”

Soon after, Dave said he noticed a man collecting the swabs and throwing them in a trash bag.

He approached the man and asked him for proof he worked there, but the man claimed he didn’t speak English. When Dave started speaking to him in Spanish, the man said he spoke Russian, according to Dave.

Dave said he called police and stayed in line and warned others, including his friends behind him, not to talk to the pair.

“By the time they [police] responded, I was already around the corner onto another road so I couldn’t really see what was going on,” he recalled.

An employee at the site told police there were two insurance employees going around and asking for information, but they did not speak Spanish.

“No further law enforcement action was taken,” the report states.

Real Diagnostics, the company that runs the testing site, has no ties to Oak Crest Lab. A Real Diagnostics spokesman said those in line will fill out their information on paper, and shouldn’t submit anything unless it has the Real Diagnostics logo on the page. They said the company is now considering different ways to identify lab personnel.

If you think you may be victim of a scheme, call law enforcement immediately to file a report.

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