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My Long Lost Relative is a Nigerian Prince!

You did read that title correctly, however, for the vast majority of us our relatives are not royals and don’t have millions of dollars to give us. This, however, is one of the most recognizable email scams out there and usually rings a bell with people that have gotten these scam emails. This isn’t the only scam out there though, and though this scam had its hay day it's being overshadowed by some more prolific scams.

The top three scams in 2019 according to the FTC were:

1. Imposter Scams – reported losses of nearly $667 million

2. Social Security Scams – est. loss of nearly $249 million

3. Phone scams – median loss of $1,000 for those who were scammed

Most of the scams are now being perpetrated over the phone and involve gift cards. The scammer will either say that money is needed to send money (gift card scam), or that a loved one is in trouble and that money is needed to get them out of trouble (imposter scam). These scams aren’t limited to personal emails either, I regularly get scam warnings at work to not click on certain emails as they have been spoofed for fraudulent gains.

So you’re probably wondering why we’re talking about this on a church blog, well, it’s quite simple – everyone is susceptible to this type of activity and our role on the Safety and Security Committee at Atonement Lutheran Church is to help all of our members stay safe both inside and outside of the church (to the extent that we can). Another reason you’re seeing this post is that though the 2019 scams centered around imposters, Social Security, and phone calls, you can almost bet that 2020 scams will be centered around the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic. According to the FTC, $13.44 million dollars have been fraudulently gained by scammers from Jan 1, 2020 to Apr 15, 2020 relating to COVID-19 scams.

According to the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, the newest scams to be on the lookout for are:

  • Social Security benefits – scammer will ask for personal identification information so that the recipient can receive extra benefits

  • Stimulus Payment – a text message will ask you to click a link for an approved $1,000 payment

  • Door-to-Door Testing – Scammers going to people’s houses to administer COVID-19 home tests but never sending results after getting paid by the victim.

  • Reserve Vaccine – Phone calls letting people reserve a COVID-19 vaccination by providing a credit card number or social security number.

Are you asking yourself what can you do to avoid being scammed? If so, here are some good tips, and resources to help you avoid being the victim of one of these or other scams.

  • NEVER provide personal information such as your social security number, date of birth, bank account number, or anything personally or financially identifying

  • Don’t click on links in emails that you are not familiar with

  • Do not provide personal information over the phone to someone who has called you, if they called you they should know who you are

For further resources and tips, please take a look at the below, and be sure that while we are flattening the curve and staying healthy at home, we should also be keeping our finances protected from scams and scammers!


Cover Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

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