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Identity theft expert: Ebola-related scams are cropping up

PHOENIX — Scammers are taking advantage of the Ebola scare and swindling consumers out of money.

Fraudsters tend to exploit emergency situations to take advantage of people’s panicked state.

Most recently, crooks have claimed they have created a way to protect humans from the virus. Others are selling fake treatments they say can cure the disease, according to the owner of a Scottsdale-based identity theft protection business.

“One is a product scam where people are making unsubstantiated claims that they contain herbal oil and snake venom which can cure or prevent Ebola,” Adam Levin, chairman and founder of Identity Theft 911, said.

Scammers have also been collecting money for fake charities related to the disease. Levin said those who are looking to donate should do their research before giving away their money.

“At a time like this, do not be panicked and do not be lured into doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily do either because some has tugged at your heart strings or because you’re being controlled by fear,” he said.

The Ebola crisis in the U.S. took another alarming turn Wednesday with word that a second Dallas nurse caught the disease from a patient and flew across the Midwest aboard an airliner the day before she fell ill. Amber Joy Vinson, 29, helped treat Ebola-stricken patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from the virus last Wednesday.

The first Dallas health care worker to test positive for the disease was 26-year-old Nina Pham, as revealed on Sunday. Even after Pham’s diagnosis was announced, Vinson flew on a plane Monday from Cleveland back to the Dallas area. Vinson did not report having a fever until Tuesday. Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said no one else involved in Duncan’s care will be allowed to travel “other than in a controlled environment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.