NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two rackets currently take advantage of COVID-19 and connection.
Investigators said the first is known as the ‘Grandparent Scam’. A caller, impersonating a grandchild, needs help explained FBI Special Agent Stephen Fogarty, “You really can’t understand them that well. Why? It will be because I’ve got a cold or I was in a bad accident and my jaws wired shut.”
A third party quickly gets on the phone. “Maybe an attorney representing them because of the accident,” said Fogarty.
The fraudster explains the court has imposed a gag order and targets fear. “I’m working to get this bond money for your grandchild to get them out of jail, because we don’t want them in jail because of COVID,” Fogarty impersonated what scammers may say.
All they need is money now. Fogarty said the bad guys often claim, “If you can get $20,000 in cash, and have it available for the courier, that’s the way they do business.”
There’s little recourse for the victim.
“Once it’s put to cash…Who knows where it goes? Tracking it becomes almost impossible,” said Fogarty.
The second scam targets those who text.
“The number one age categories for scams right now is Millennials,” said President and CEO of BBB Middle TN and Southern KY, Robyn Householder.
The group, typically more social during COVID-19, now a target for people posing as contact tracers. “They’ll get a text that asks them to provide additional information,” explained Householder.
Unsuspecting, they often reply said Householder, “They’re very apt to respond because they’re so used to communicating digitally.”
Not only is personal information compromised, so is the device.
“The other thing you need to be careful of when you’re getting unsolicited texts is that it’s downloading malware to your phone and now it has information on all of your contact names.”
Householder said unrelenting scammers are causing more problems during the pandemic. “Unfortunately, they’re usually pretty darn successful.”
Real contact tracers will not ask for your social security number, immigration status, or financial information. And, they’ll never ask for payment.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.