TN law enforcement warns of scams disguised as emotional social posts, online campaigns during pandemic


COVID-19 Scam Watch

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Scams take many forms. You name it, a scammer has thought of it, and they are using your bank accounts to collect cash. That includes more elaborate measures of taking advantage of people’s feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Law enforcement officers say the number one way to avoid being scammed is by educating yourself on the latest fraud trends.

Wilson County Sheriff’s Captain Scott Moore has been taking the time to warn Tennessee residents of various internet scams through social media or online campaigns. Both provide easy access and incredible reach and are perfectly timed during a deadly pandemic.

“We’re a vulnerable people right now,” said Moore.

The elderly used to be prime targets, but he said that is evolving too, “Now, they’re hitting up everybody, all ages, because of social media, because there’s so much of a following…It’s so easy to go out and exploit.”

The scams are varied, and more sophisticated than ever, Moore said. It’s why law enforcement wants to warn people through news media, word of mouth, trying to keep up with a virus complicating all walks of life.

“It started spreading across the country, and I put a warning out on our social media,” Moore explained.

Creating awareness and vigilance is equally critical.

For months, scammers have targeted people’s heartstrings on sites like GoFundMe. The site has raised $9 billion with its outreach. But the stories of suffering, Moore warned, can sometimes be just stories. “It’s a legit platform but there are a lot of scammers out there that are creating fake accounts.”

They’ll use all means necessary to trick, through texting, by phone or fake emails, rearranging domain names to look official. Investigators warn against assuming you’re too smart to be scammed.

“I don’t care how strong a person you are, or how good you’ve got it right now, with everything that’s going on that you’re seeing across the country it affects you mentally,” said Moore.

Moore also warns residents of giving personal information to people on the phone calling from unknown sources. With many Americans needing financial assistance and waiting for a stimulus check, scammers are calling people promising people checks asking for their bank information.

“Scammers are reaching out to people, trying to let them know that they’re ready to send out a stimulus check. What they’re needing is their bank account number.”

With a second stimulus in the works, scammers are already strategizing, assuming they’re two steps ahead.

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