Pandemic supplies new avenues for scammers to target
By Chadwick Dolgos
In addition to scams related to utility companies, government entities, and more, fraudsters have now added the new coronavirus to their list of ways aimed at getting you to part with your hard-earned cash.
Whether a caller pretends to be financial institutions happy to assist you with your stimulus check or is posing as a COVID-19 contact tracer informing you of your recent contact with an infected individual, these scam callers are clever in their manipulations and tactics to trick consumers.
Esplen resident Derik Dolgos has received scam calls relating to coronavirus testing on two separate occasions. Both calls came from out of state callers.
“The [first] caller said they were a doctor with the [Center for Disease Control] and that my test came back as positive,” he said.
“Once I told them I was never tested, they got an attitude with me and were almost forcing me to give them information and admit that I took the test.”
This caller requested the names of people with whom Dolgos had been in close contact with. Before being hung up on, the caller also asked for phone numbers, addresses and other personal information.
“The second call was from Texas. It was a recording stating someone in my household had tested positive for COVID-19,” he said.
This time, the caller requested a social security number in order to confirm a two-week quarantine.
Knowing that nobody in his household had been tested for the coronavirus, he ended the call.
In McKees Rocks, a resident who wishes to remain anonymous, said she received a suspicious phone call from a 1-800 number.
“He told me I was at risk and needed to get tested due to someone within close proximity to me having COVID-19,” she said.
The caller proceeded to try and sell her a test kit.
“When they brought up the $50 fee for the test kit, I kept saying it was free at the local hospital and they eventually got angry and hung up.”
Coraopolis Chief of Police Ronald Denbow said in an email that his department has not received complaints about COVID-19 scams specifically, but recently has “gotten complaints on Duquesne Light scams and IRS scams.”
Denbow urges people who receive these types of calls or anything similar to “hang up and not engage in any conversation.”
An online complaint form is available on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s website, www.attorneygeneral.gov.