SCAM ALERT: The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is now warning people against a fake letter circulating on social media. The claim? That those households receiving the state’s government assistance program will lose their benefits if they don’t submit to mandatory COVID-19 testing. These benefits include MediCal (healthcare) and CalFresh (food assistance).
The fraudulent letter has been shared across different social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, but was targeted toward residents of Merced County in California. It had the CDSS seal and appeared to be signed by Mark Ghaley M.D., MPH, who is the current secretary for California’s Health & Human Services Agency.
“The letter, its contents and the website are fake,” a California Department of Social Services news release said. “We have alerted the appropriate county authorities for investigation. If you receive this letter, please disregard it.”
False Claims in the Letter
The Merced Sun-Star is reporting that the letter claimed that residents who failed to get tested by June 1 were to lose their state benefits beginning July 1 and wouldn’t be eligible for them until completing testing.
The fake letter also claimed that if state benefit recipients tested positive for the virus, their children would be taken into foster care. It also asked state benefit recipients to visit a website to register for testing.
“State departments and county human services departments NEVER will ask about your health status in connection to an application for benefits,” wrote the CDSS in their response to the circulation of the fake letter. “Similarly, children must be subject to abuse or neglect to enter foster care. Children cannot be put into foster care just because a parent may be ill.”
The CDSS is currently searching for the person behind the letter. Anyone with information on the origin of the letter is urged to contact the CDSS at (916)-651-8848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fake Social Services Letter — Sources
California Department of Social Services
Merced Sun-Star: Merced County scam alert: COVID-10 test not mandatory to receive benefits, say officials.
Fox10: California DSS warns of fake letter that threatens removal of kids over COVID-19 testing