Federal agencies involved in policing the phony calls
By: Rachel DePompa
Originally published: April 3, 2020
(InvestigateTV) – Day-in and day-out, robocalls don’t seem to go away. Now, these scammers are attacking your cell phones, trying to profit from coronavirus-related fears.
The Federal Trade Commission posted examples of scam calls on its website.
Statements made on the calls included things like:
- Free test kits: “The coronavirus has caused the us to declare a national emergency.” “If you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home press one “
- Fake tests for Medicare recipients: “Thank you for calling the coronavirus hotline.”
- Mortgage scam: “Hello! Due to the coronavirus mortgage rates have dropped to an all-time low.”
- Social security fraud: “Hello! This is a call from the social security administration.”
- Sanitation supplies: “Do to coronavirus outbreak we deliver a wide range of sanitizers.”
Attorneys general from around the nation have issued warning after warning.
“Don’t push any numbers just hang up,” said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. They are warning about charity schemes that try to drain your generosity and phony online offers for vaccinations and home test kits.
The FBI is also weighing in.
“Scammers are scammers, and always will be thus,” said Special Agent in Charge David W. Archey with the FBI field office in Richmond, Virginia. “I think this public health crisis right now, I think the number of vulnerabilities or the number of fears that could be exploited are multiplied.”
The fraudsters aren’t just ringing the phones either; they are also sending emails.
One fake email appears to from the World Health Organization. It’s trying to get you to click on a link about “more” safety measures because of COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission posted the email as an example on its website as a prime example of a phishing email.
Those types of emails eventually lead you to fake sites that try to get you to give up your bank account information or social security number.
Another thing to watch for: stimulus checks are about to hit the mail or your bank account, so the deceit by some will only ramp up.
“I just think some people prey on the panic people are in even the desperation and understandable desperation,” said Gary Thomson, a certified public accountant.
He said people are already starting to get random text messages saying click this link to get your stimulus check.
“Phone calls from individuals saying we can give you an advance on your stimulus check. Phone calls saying they’re with the FBI or IRS and they need personal information, like your social security information and bank information…. the IRS does not operate that way,” Thomson said.
Everyone is in a hurry and moves at the speed of the internet, and that’s what fraudsters target.
“If you slow down and take a look and find something wrong. Doesn’t feel right. It probably isn’t right,” Archey said.
Don’t open attachments or click on links from emails. Don’t provide information about yourself in unsolicited emails and messages.
If you think you’ve been a victim of a crime report it at ic3.gov. You can also reach out to our state attorney general.
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