Home Local News Scammers target bank customers, nurses; take advantage of COVID fears

Scammers target bank customers, nurses; take advantage of COVID fears

RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Would-be scammers are again trying to take advantage of Richmond County and other North Carolina residents.

A Richmond County man received a call late last week from someone saying money was being taken from his bank account.

His daughter tells the RO that when she called his bank, she was told there had been several other related calls that day.

“We often hear about variations on that scam,” said Laura Brewer with the N.C. Attorney General’s office. “We encourage anyone who is called by their bank or receives any kind of upsetting information on the phone — the IRS says you owe taxes, the police say there’s a warrant for your arrest — to hang up and call the entity directly using the number they have for them. Often that clears up any issues.”

The daughter of the intended victim says she also received a Social Security scam call over the weekend.

Last week, the AG’s office also warned about two other scams, including one that pertains to a vaccine for the coronavirus.

The AG’s office offered the following information to help residents not be fooled:

  • Right now, there is no FDA-approved, available COVID-19 vaccine. These vaccines are still being reviewed and approved. If someone reaches out to you offering a vaccine, it’s a scam.
  • Do not attempt to purchase a vaccine, treatment, or miracle cure. Don’t respond to unsolicited calls, texts, or emails about vaccines or treatments. Ignore offers on social media or from online pharmacies and talk to your doctor if you’re unsure about purchasing a medical product. Remember, as all scams go – if it’s too good to be true – it probably is.
  • Always consult with a medical professional. Talk to your doctor before you purchase or use any treatment. When vaccines are available, talk to your doctor or health care provider to get more information about receiving vaccines and make sure your doctor or health care provider has been approved to administer the vaccine.
  • Don’t be deceived by misinformation. Stick to reputable sources for legitimate updates about the vaccine, including the CDC and the FDA.

The AG’s office has also received complaints of a scam targeting licensed nurses.

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“In this scam, the nurse receives a call claiming to be from the nursing board, DEA, or FBI about suspected illegal drug or banking activity by the nurse,” a scam alert reads. “The callers instruct the nurse to cooperate with their investigation by making a payment.”

The following tips were given to nurses to avoid falling victim to the scammers:

  • Never trust an unknown caller. Like many licensed professionals, a nurse’s name and license number can be found on a public website. By providing the targeted nurse with his or her actual license number, the scammer can appear more credible.
  • Call the agency directly. Whenever a person calls claiming to be from a government agency or private company, hang up and instead call a number listed on their website to ask if the call was legitimate.
  • Never give out financial information to an unknown caller. Instead, hang up and call our office.

The following tips are offered for telephone scams in general:

  • You never have to make a purchase or pay taxes, fees or other expenses in advance to receive a prize. Anyone who demands an upfront fee for a prize is trying to scam you.
  • Never make an advance payment for a loan or credit card. It is illegal under state and federal law to require payment in advance in order to receive a loan or credit card, or to be referred to someone who’ll issue you a loan or credit card.
  • Telemarketers who pitch lottery tickets over the phone are trying to cheat you. It’s illegal to offer lottery tickets over the phone or through the mail.
  • Never give your bank account, credit card or Social Security number to someone you don’t know who calls you on the phone.
  • Unless you are familiar with the company, do not respond to mailings and email messages concerning sweepstakes or lottery prizes.  Doing so can get you on a list of potential targets that is purchased by fraudulent telemarketers around the world.
  • Watch out for that check!  Telephone con artists will send you checks to cover taxes or fees on your prize or award.  They direct you to deposit the check in your bank account and then wire them cash.  The check may look real enough to fool your bank, but it is a counterfeit check  and the money you wire will end up coming out of your own funds.
  • Watch out for your senior citizen friends and family. Be especially vigilant about seniors who suffer from early stage Alzheimer’s Disease, other forms of memory loss or depression.
  • Crooks frequently use reloadable debit cards like Green Dot MoneyPaks as a method to get money from victims. Once money has been loaded onto the card, the scammer gets the card’s account number from the victim and quickly empties the account through an electronic transaction that can’t be traced.
  • Frequent trips to Western Union or Moneygram or frequent pick-ups by overnight courier services can be signs that someone is a victim of telemarketing fraud. Once a fraudulent telemarketer discovers a victim, that victim’s name will be sold to hundreds of other scammers.
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry to cut down on telemarketing sales calls. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll know that many telemarketers who call are probably out to scam you.

If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, you’re encouraged to call the Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov/file-a-complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.

See more about the different types of scams here.

Last year, a Hamlet native decided to prank a would-be scammer and recorded the conversation.

 

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