By CBS3 Staff

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office says it’s seeing an increase in bias and hate crimes. In a virtual town hall Thursday, state officials warned that white supremacists and foreign governments are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to ramp up tensions on social media.

“Wow, there’s an awful lot of disinformation out there. Again, it started more as a state-based actor but we quickly moved into a realm of white supremacy groups. For example, some of the race-based issued groups and some of the extremist groups across the board trying to sow that panic and discontent, many of whom want to bring down government,” Jared Maples, director of New Jersey’s Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, said.

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“I use the word opportunism. They’re opportunists, they’re taking advantage of people’s fears, people’s concerns, again maybe discontent, they’re taking advantage of that right now and that’s something we’re seeing across the state and quite frankly, the country.”

The Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness said social media rumors can be checked out on its COVID-19 page.