LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — Fear and uncertainty surrounds the coronavirus as it continues to spread. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is now warning scammers will take advantage, but Lorain County deputies say it’s already happening.
Lt. Robert Vansant says he was made aware of a Facebook post warning residents to be on the lookout for scammers who are door knocking and offering to do home tests for COVID-19. The posts warns that when the victims falls for the scam, the suspect robs them.
The post was shared thousands of times by residents and other law enforcement agencies.
But Lt. Vansant says something was off.
“We didn’t receive any phone calls from any of the residents that said they were approached by anyone. It’s just that the post came up and we were made aware of it and looked into it,” he said.
It’s not clear who is responsible for the fake warning.
“We can find out where it came from but that’s going to take some invested time,” Lt. Vansant explained.
The intent behind the warning is also unknown, but Lt. Vansant says it could have been done to incite unnecessary fear.
“It’s just crazy and unprecedented that in times like this that they take advantage of people in that situation.”
While deputies continue warn the people not to believe the post, Sheryl Harris with the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs says that warning could become reality during this pandemic.
“Scammers really do well when people are stressed worried or financially stressed and this is a trifecta of all these things,” she explained.
Harris says her team has already seen reports of emails and ads marketing fake cures and protection from COVID-19.
“There are just tons of these scams they’re just exploding like the virus,” she said. “Scammers like to glom onto headlines. They’re really good at that because they know that this is on the news and it’s on everyone’s minds.”
As scammers begin to attack, Harris hopes people heed the real warnings and take action.
“With the government now saying they’re to start giving checks; they’re going to releasing funds to people so that’s going to be cash that scammers want to get a hold of. Everyone should be very careful about any sort of call to them saying ‘I’m calling to help you get your government money. Give me your social security number or give me or bank account number so I deposit this. Those are scams. Government does not make phone calls to people,” she said.
If you encounter any scams related to COVID-19 report it. If you’re not sure if it’s a scam or have any questions, you can call the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad line at 216-443-SCAM (7226). You can also contact the Attorney General’s website.