BBB Scam Spotlight: June 2020
Columbus, OH (July 21, 2020) – Because money loss and identity theft can happen to anyone, BBB consistently encourages community members to protect and inform others by reporting any scam-related experiences to BBB’s Scam Tracker, and scammers have not slowed down in the wake of the global pandemic.
In the month of June, Central Ohio consumers reported 90 Scam Tracker reports, which is an 80% increase over June of last year, and $60,000 lost to scams, an 876% increase from June of 2019. The primary means of exposure to the scam was through the internet, although the highest dollar amount lost by a single individual was through a phone call.
- Sweepstake Scams: One consumer reported losing $36,000 to a sweepstakes scam. She received a call from a scammer calling himself “Jim Kingston.” Jim called to tell her she had “won Publishers Clearing House, 12.5 million dollars, a Mercedes Benz and $5000 a month for life.” Jim told the consumer she had to mail checks to him to cover the costs of “storing, delivering, the title and auto insurance for the car.” Jim originally said she would only have to pay $2,500 to receive her prizes. In the end, she gave Jim $36,000. She mailed overnight checks, sent Walmart gift cards and even gave Jim her bank routing and account number to cover the cost to receive her “prizes.” BBB wants to remind everyone that no legitimate sweepstakes company will ask you to pay fees to collect your prize.
- Virtual Wallet Scams: A Columbus consumer reported losing $5,700 because she was unable to withdraw money from her Cash App card through an ATM. She Googled the number for Cashapp’s customer service and called. A man answered and she explained why she was calling and he said her card “was declined because there was a block on it due to fraudulent activity.” He then claimed he could help solve the problem, all she had to do was “download the teamviewer quick support app.” Once she did that and confirmed it, he told her to go back to her “banking app” and to “delete [her bank account information] and re-enter it.” He then told the consumer to “move $500 from [her] Cashapp account to her banking app.” When she confirmed that was done, he asked her to move “$4767.52 to her banking app.” He then told the consumer her card was fixed. When she went back into her banking app later, she saw she only had $1 in her account. BBB offers the following tips to keep your money safe when using peer-to-peer apps.
- Pet Scams: A consumer reported losing $3,000 to a puppy scam. She reported that she tried to buy a puppy online and have it shipped from California to Columbus, Ohio. The seller contacted her to let her know she needed to send them “$950 for a crate.” From there, the costs started piling up. The puppy needed “vaccines before coming to Ohio [which cost] $840”, “a stress free vaccine for $712” and “$612 for food and accommodations.” The scammer then contacted the consumer asking for “another insurance payment of $849”, with still no sign of the puppy being delivered. Unfortunately, puppy scams are rising during the pandemic.
Consumers are encouraged to report scams to BBB Scam Tracker to help protect others in the Central Ohio community.
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