Scammers profiting off COVID-19, BBB warns

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33)(FOX 44) – The COVID-19 outbreak has emotions running high, leaving the public vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially scams Charlotte Smith, the spokesperson for the Gonzalez Police Department, says scammers like to exploit fear.

“We get scammed all the time, maybe not personally but we hear about them all the time. But in times of upset or worry they tend to increase in number,” Smith says.

Smith says scammers have been hiding behind brands you recognize to con people out of hundreds of dollars. And what’s even worse, they’re using COVID-19 as a cover-up. Some are offering fake quarantine deals for people streaming Netflix and Hulu. While others are getting more crafty.

“They’ll use coding and language targeting certain groups,” Smith says.

One of those groups is the elderly. Smith says scammers are offering coronavirus testing to this demographic for a price. They’ll even use names of loved ones and special links to look more legitimate. Carmen Million, president, and CEO of the Better Baton Rouge Bureau says the scam’s look is a huge part of the process.

“That’s why the scam is working, they’re hitting people where they’re vulnerable,” Million says.

The BBB says you can still spot the scam no matter how legitimate it may look. Pay attention to the deal. If it sounds sketchy, it’s probably a scam. If you get a phone call, ask to call back. If the person on the other line seems annoyed at that, the deal probably isn’t real.

“Investigate, do your homework and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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