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Experts Warn Of Fraudulent Sites Made To Look Like Federal Government's Site For Free COVID-19 Tests

SCHILLER PARK, Ill. (CBS) -- At-home COVID-19 tests are now available at the click of a button, as the Biden administration officially launched on Wednesday – allowing for four free tests per household that ship in seven to 12 days.

But just as the government's site was up and running, so were the bogus ones. CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov found dozens of fraudulent links disguised as the real deal, and had a warning Wednesday night before you click yourself.

The government website to get up to four free COVID rapid tests per household went live earlier than planned on Tuesday. But before most people could click, lookalike web links promising those free tests were already out there – with the potential to mislead those in a hurry to sign up.

"It's a habit of mine," said data scientists John Conwell. "I saw 'free COVID test,' and said, 'Oh yeah, someone's going to fake that.'"

So Conwell did what he always does and began searching for addresses and links similar to - the real one. He found more than 18 copycat domains.

He also tweeted a warning just to help.

"We're all trying to, you know, make the world a little bit better place, right?" Conwell said.

We all may be – except, of course, those using fake websites to divert and deceive intentionally.

"And they don't let anything – any disaster, any new government program – get past them without them trying to figure out a way to separate you from your money or from your identity," said fraud expert William Kresse.

Kresse, a professor at Governors State University, surfed some of the fake websites.

"Some have already been blocked – which is good," he said. "Some, you get a warning that this will lead you into an area that will place malware – and specifically spyware – on your computer."

And some just take you to ads. But Kresse and Conwell's point is to be aware of what is fake, and what is real, before giving information away.

"This first two, they have at the end 'dot-gov,'" Kresse said. "They're government websites. Government websites are very difficult to get. So those would be legitimate."

The Post Office will deliver tests from the government right to your home. President Joe Biden is setting aside half a billion tests now.

The federal government is planning on making another half billion available later.

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