MADISON COUNTY — The pandemic has people talking on the phone more than ever. Because of this, scams over the phone have become more commonplace, with the most recent one specifically coronavirus-related.
According to the Madison County Triad, the scam targets senior citizens. In its Facebook post, the group explained that the scam utilizes a phone call stating the person on the phone is a COVID-19 contact tracer. The call claims the person called has been exposed and needs to pay to have a testing kit sent to them, and they will get in trouble.
Triad Lt. Kristopher Tharp of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office said that after the group made its Facebook post, Madison County Health Department informed them they had received two calls regarding the scam.
“Scams like this usually come in waves,” Tharp said. “We know that if one or two people in Madison County has received such a call, we can assume that there have been dozens — if not hundreds — that have received that same message.”
Tharp said that there has been an increasing in scams overall. The main reason, he sai, is that “everybody is at home tight now.”
“They (scammers) prey upon the feeling of being unsettled,” he said. “You get a call about COVID, you instantly feel a certain amount of panic and are less likely to ask questions.”
Tharp said that one common thread with these scams is that they try to place urgency and fear, and will often ask for money. According to Tharp, often the scammers will ask that the money be wired via Western Union or that people make a payment using a prepaid credit card.
“There is no police agency in the country that is going to call and ask you for money, nor would they ever threaten you,” Tharp said.
Because scammers are difficult to track, Tharp said Triad relies on the community to share their experiences.
“Our power in this situation is through sharing the message and getting it out,” he said. He urged victims to contact their local police departments if they have any encounters with the scammers.
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