FBI Omaha warns of COVID-19 related scams

Posted at 10:22 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 23:22:17-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As the number of COVID-19 cases increases so do scams related to the virus.

"The federal government's sending out unprecedented amounts of money right now to both companies and individuals," FBI Omaha's Bryan Van Deun said. "We're seeing a variety of schemes where people are trying to take advantage of the opportunity to get that money for illicit reasons."

Van Deun, who's the white collar crimes supervisor, says some people have even fraudulently offered N-95 masks.

"Putting out pay in advance schemes where people are putting down significant amounts of money in order to buy what they are thinking is a large amount of N-95 respirators masks that just don't exists it's a totally fraudulent transaction," Van Deun said.

The biggest issue he sees is aimed at the elderly, through scam calls and emails.

"When they see an email purporting to be from let's say the World Health Organization or another international agency talking about the health crisis needing assistance to help fight that and it's an email requesting funds the elderly might fall victim to that send that money thinking that they're doing good when they're actually falling victim to a scam," Van Deun said.

He tells 3 News Now people should monitor elderly family members and report any scams.

"If we ignore unsolicited called or emails that look to be fraudulent we're allowing those people to continue on and maybe victimize somebody else," he said.

OPPD is also reporting an uptick in scam calls.

The company says it received at least 60 phone calls from customers Tuesday.

"Check the legitimate known websites first before responding to anything because most unsolicited emails or calls most likely are scams," Van Deun said.