SPOT THE COVID-19 STIMULUS SCAMMERS

Broward Sheriff's Office: Public Information Office

PIO Number: 20-4-16                Date: April 17, 2020


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the nation, criminals will look for new methods to exploit consumers, which may include targeting federal government stimulus checks. Potential scams may include offers of fake cures, fraudulent services, bogus charities or scammers pretending to speed up stimulus payments for a fee and others.

It is anticipated that many fraudulent schemes will occur before, during and after the rollout of the federal stimulus payment, some of which may be: 

- Calls or phishing emails requesting personal identifying information from victims to obtain the stimulus payments. 

- Calls or phishing emails requesting banking information to deposit the stimulus payment (would probably ask for passwords as well).

- Receiving checks in the mail which turn out to be fraudulent. When deposited, victims will be instructed to send some or most of the money to another account or purchase gift cards.

- Fake websites that state they will assist in obtaining the stimulus payment or additional payments.

BSO reminds the public to be vigilant and follow these tips:

- Remember the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Go directly to the IRS.gov for information and questions on your payment.

- Watch out for scammers who may use text, emails, robocalls, fake social media posts or even bogus websites as a ruse to obtain your personal or financial information. 

- Never divulge personal or financial information unless you are absolutely sure to whom you are providing information. Criminals will try to lure you into providing your social security number, bank account or passwords and then use that information to gain access to your accounts. 

- Do not pay anyone who promises to expedite your stimulus check or make an upfront payment to expedite the process. Anyone who tells you to pay by Western Union or Money Gram, or by putting money on a gift card, is a scammer.

- Carefully monitor emails claiming to have products or services to help stop the COVID-19 outbreak. Forged emails may appear to be from public institutions including hospitals, designed to lure users to open the message, unleashing malware. 

- Do not provide any personal information or click on links from sources you don’t know. If unsure, delete the message.

- Beware of emails and text messages from senders posing as shipping or delivery companies. If you get an unexpected text message, don’t click on any links. Instead, contact the company using a website or phone number you know is real. 

- If you receive a phone call from anyone claiming to be a law enforcement official seeking money, refuse the demand and report the threat to your local law enforcement agency immediately.

- Before investing with those who claim to have products or services that will be used to help stop the COVID-19 outbreak, read these tips:
https://www.investor.gov/protect-your-investments/fraud/how-avoid-fraud/what-you-can-do-avoid-investment-fraud.

Other helpful links:




If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov. You can also call BSO's non-emergency line at 954-764-4357 (HELP). Sheriff Gregory Tony and the men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to your safety and well-being. For additional important information, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or via our media alerts.

THIS REPORT BY:
Miranda Grossman/PIO
4/17/20 1100