CLEVELAND — As people look for new jobs or ways to just get by, criminals are targeting you now more than ever. People are so isolated right now, but the crooks will find you.
“We are beginning to see more and more scams be perpetrated online,” said Sue McConnell from the Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland. She told us Coronavirus breeds other problems besides just health. “It’s just creating a big arena for all kinds of scams,” she said.
On the BBB’s ScamTracker website, we saw grant scams. Crooks “calling from the government” wanting to know your bank account number, your credit card number or asking if you know where Western Union is.
One person recently lost $1,100 to a government grant scam.
“These are also showing up on social media sites…phony grant offers due to coronavirus,” said McConnell.
Plus, so many people are laid off. They’re turning to the internet, posting resumes. Be careful. One complaint to the BBB showed a person lost $1,900 during a fake "Mystery Shopper” scam.
Others are getting roped into different fake jobs.
“They’ll send you counterfeit checks and tell you to deposit them and wire money to somebody, or buy gift cards as part of your so-called job,” McConnell told us.
Pop-up web sites related to COVID-19 are more common now.
“If you’re noticing that it’s a brand new site, be very careful,” warned McConnell. She suggests using the site “Who Is” that will tell you where and when the site was created. “ And if you’re noticing that it’s registered from a country outside of the United States, you may just want to go to a different site,” suggested McConnell.
And here’s one of the scariest scenarios that scammers are trying: “Seniors are getting calls from individuals offering to pick up their prescriptions for them,” McConnell warned.
If you get a call for any coronavirus reason, Cuyahoga County leaders want you to stop and get information. “Offer to call the person back at a number that you can verify as the bank or the organization that you claim to represent,” said Terry Allan, who is the Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner.
The BBB also reports complaints about fake sites selling facial masks that take your money and then don’t send any of the products.
So, warn your friends, neighbors and older Americans, because even when it seems like they’re safe in, isolation they’re really not.
Here’s the latest warning coming from the Federal Communications Commission:
“WASHINGTON, March 20, 2020—The Federal Communications Commission today launched a COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips webpage – https://www.fcc.gov/covid-scams [fcc.gov] – to alert consumers to the proliferation of scam phone calls and texts related to the coronavirus pandemic. Scammers are promoting bogus cures, offering fake test kits, sending hoax text messages, and generally preying on virus-related fears. The webpage includes sample audio from actual scams, including: · Free home testing kits · Scams targeting diabetics who use insulin · Coronavirus HVAC cleaning The FCC receives consumer complaints and is monitoring news reports and consumer alerts from other federal government agencies. “We’re tracking scams and sharing information to arm consumers about how imposters use spoofing and other tactics to steal their money and their identity,” said Patrick Webre, Chief of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. “The FCC fights these types of scams through enforcement of its rules, but our primary goal is to be proactive so Americans don’t fall victim to these bad actors.” Check back for updates to the FCC COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips webpage, which will be refreshed as new scams surface. For more information about scam calls and texts, visit the FCC Consumer Help Center [fcc.gov] and the FCC Scam Glossary [fcc.gov]. You can also file a complaint about such scams at fcc.gov/complaints [fcc.gov]. The FCC has more information on what service providers are doing to help consumers during the pandemic to Keep Americans Connected [fcc.gov].”