The pandemic tragedy has brought infections, deaths, millions of people out of work, many in danger of eviction…
And something else:
There was a new surge of scammers as people lost their jobs and filed for unemployment.
There was another surge of scammers when the government stimulus money started going out.
We began getting phone calls from someone purporting to be a bank or a government official, needing personal information to facilitate our getting that unemployment compensation and/or pandemic relief.
More calls – from scammers saying they were doing coronavirus contact tracing and asking for our personal information to help them follow up with people possibly infected.
Fake websites began making appearances, too. Some look like legitimate government sites, while other pretend to be selling items we want – face masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies. The first want your Social Security number; the second, your credit card number.
Other websites offer coronavirus cures and tests – appealing in these desperate times, but all bogus.
There are even what look like real company websites posting fake job openings on online job boards, set up to fool job hunters into handing over personal information or to send money.
“Send money?” you’re thinking. “How could someone be fooled into sending a prospective employer money?”
Answer: Easy. The scammer tells the victim that they need to pay upfront for background checks or screenings, job training, or work-from-home equipment or supplies. Many times, victims are told they’ll be reimbursed for these expenses with their first paycheck.
People are desperate for work, and so…
Then there are – perhaps the most despicable of all – scammers who pretend they represent charities, contacting people by phone, email, texts, letters, and even going door to door.
One example of the latter is operating here in San Diego, according to this recent article in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
San Diego Second Chance Program, which provides workforce readiness training, sober-living housing and educational programs to formerly incarcerated youths and adults, is a legitimate non-profit, according to CharityNavigator.com:
And that means these scammers are the worst kind of scammer scum – not only are they ripping off donors, but they’re damaging the reputation of a legitimate organization; people who hear/read about the scam may think, “Second Chance – didn’t I read or hear about them scamming people?”
No, you did not hear/read about Second Chance Program scamming people, but you were busy or distracted or something, and only saw or heard the words “Scam” and “Second Chance” grouped together.
Here’s how these scum operate, according to the Union-Tribune article:
“The solicitors – sometimes carrying a fake badge or document with the organization’s name – approach a home pretending to be representatives of Second Chance and ask people to donate money, buy candy or a magazine subscription.”
And even though, says the article, Second Chance has this warning on its website:
“Second Chance does not solicit funds door-to-door. Nor do we send our youth out in the community to sell candy or subscriptions.”
Still, many people make donations of $10 to $20 to the fake solicitors, according to Maureen Polimadei, the donor and volunteer engagement manager for Second Chance.
And that’s too bad.
Scammers, like evil, have been around forever.
So, too, have their victims – people, some with the best of intentions, some too gullible, and some too ill-informed about the bad people out there.
And because of them, Second Chance may get less funding, and have fewer of these: