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Expert, law enforcement gives warning on COVID-19 scams

There’s a lot of misinformation being spread surrounding COVID-19, and criminals are seeing fear as an opportunity to cash in.

BRYAN, Texas — The COVID-19 outbreak is brining tension from every direction; our finances… our health, our daily routines and scammers are taking advantage.

“Well every one of these have one thing in common. They focus on people’s fear,” said Kim Cobb, a financial expert and Managing Director at a private investment firm. 

“We’re all vulnerable to this right now, we’re home now, we’re available by phone all of us are we’re online more, so we’re readily accessible. These guys are attacking people of all levels of sophistication.”

One coronavirus scam making the rounds might come to you over the phone. 

Cobb said “impersonators of IRS agents are calling people and asking for personal banking details so that they can direct deposit the $1,200 stimulus checks that are going to be offered... and people need to be aware of, the IRS does not place phone calls.”

Cobb says the IRS already has the information they need for those stimulus checks to get to you, and along with phone calls, your email inbox is just as susceptible to fraud with investment scams.

“People are really scared and upset about some of the financial losses that they’ve taken. If you get approached by email or telephone calls with investments that have really high returns and someone tries to get you to wire money to them,” she said, “those are not legitimate. They’ll usually create a sense of urgency around it as well, and that should be warning sign number one.”

Now, even here in the Brazos Valley, scammers are preying on people’s concern for their health by selling fake COVID-19 test kits. 

“We had several people forward us some online posts about that... and really, there is no FDA approved test kit right now. The only way to get tested is through your normal healthcare provider,” said College Station Police Department's Public Information Officer, Tristen Lopez.  

Cobb added, “The main thing is to just be aware... and have some discernment about it. Don’t click on anything that’s in a link or an email. If you feel uncomfortable about anything that’s going on, that’s a warning sign we should probably just not talk to them."


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