MADERA COUNTY, California. (KGPE) – Authorities in Madera County are debunking a new COVID-19 scam circulating online.

The fake letter targets those who receive government assistance programs such as Medi-Cal and Cal-Fresh. The letter appears to be from the Department of Social Services and says a COVID-19 test is mandatory or the person receiving benefits will lose them.

The fake letter also says if the person tests positive for COVID-19, children in the household could be removed and placed into foster care. Authorities say all claims in the letter are false.

Madera County Sheriff’s Office: Fake letter

“We’re here to help and for someone to be causing fear during this time is pretty despicable,” said Madera County Director of Social Services Deborah Martinez.

The letter is complete with a fake signature from a state official and references Merced County Human Services Agency. The letter has circulated online in counties across the state.

“We obviously don’t want people to be fearful to come in and apply for aid, right in a time there is so much need out there,” said Martinez.

The Madera County Sheriff’s Office says although it’s making rounds on social media, there are no instances of the claims in the letter happening anywhere in the state.

“Every uniformed officer who signs up to work in public service whether it be the department of public health, social services or the sheriff’s office, we do this in order to help and protect people and this information is driving people away from us and so it’s very upsetting,” said Deputy Sarah Jackson. ​

Jackson says if you see the letter ignore it and do some research before taking action.

“Call that department or call that office and ask them is this really true? Just before you hit the share button because once you do its hard to take it back and now you’ve shared fear,” said Jackson.

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