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With false offers to help, scammers try to capitalize on hard financial times

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:10 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - During the pandemic, scammers may seem relentless in their efforts to capitalize on the hard financial time many people are experiencing. This often comes with false offers to help, including offering some cash.

One scam that targeted Wichita resident Sue Young began with what appeared to be a Facebook message from an old friend, checking to see how she’s doing. At first, she was happy to hear from her friend, but Young said it didn’t take long before she suspected the “friend’ wasn’t really who was reaching out.

The messenger asked Young if she wanted to hear about a program that helped people struggling due to COVID-19. this is a new COVID twist on an old scam, capitalizing on the fact that many Americans are hurting financially due to the pandemic.

The message appearing to come from a friend starts innocently enough, but it then turns to financial matters with an offer that sounds too good to be true.

“And they started talking about (how) I could get up to $200,000 toward COVID relief,” Young said.

That’s where the conversation needs to end, said Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau, or at least where another conversation needs to begin.

“The best thing to do is pick up the phone and contact your friend directly to see if that message came from them,” Groene said.

In her situation, Young knew what to do She clicked off of her Facebook conversation and went straight to Google where she confirmed she was being targeted for a scam. Scammers have realized that they can more easily gain trust by hacking into people’s Facebook accounts and posing as friends.

Had Young clicked on the link her “friend” provided, Groene said she would have been asked to provide sensitive information that could have left her bank accounts dry and her identity stolen.

After avoiding the scam, YOung has a message for anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation.

“You never ever ever ever want to share your personal information, you never want to send gift cards,” she said. “The old adage of getting money back, that never ever works. It never works.”

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