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Police warn of coronavirus-related scams


XENIA — As the coronavirus continues to sweep across the nation and the number of confirmed cases rises daily, so does the number of unscrupulous people looking to make a quick buck.

Myriad scams are being reported across the country and Xenia police are advising residents to be extra vigilant during the pandemic. Fortunately nobody in Xenia has become a victim so far, according to Capt. Steve Lane.

“I’m not aware of any local victims to COVID-related scams,” he said. “Those reports would all come through my office and none come to mind. I’m happy to say that.”

One particular scam involves the IRS stimulus payments that began showing up in bank accounts this week. Individuals call unsuspecting citizens attempting to obtain personal information. Lane said the IRS will not call, email, or text to verify payment detail.

“Be suspicious,” Lane said. “They don’t call people. If someone suspects that they have just received a legitimate phone call from one of those agencies, (verification) is just as quick as disconnecting that phone call and calling the number back.”

Lane added that residents should manually dial the number and not hit redial as that would send the call to the fake number.

Other scams being reported include:

— Robocallers making fraudulent offers to sell respirator masks with no intent of delivery.

— Fake COVID-19-related apps and websites that install Malware or ransomware.

— Phishing emails asking for money or presenting Malware.

— Social media scams fraudulently seeking donations or claiming to provide stimulus funds if the recipient enters his or her bank account number.

— Sales of fake testing kits, cures, “’immunity” pills, and protective equipment.

— Fraudulent offers for free COVID-19 testing in order to obtain Medicare beneficiary information that is used to submit false medical claims for unrelated, unnecessary, or fictitious testing or services.

— Prescription drug schemes involving the submission of medical claims for unnecessary antiretroviral treatments or other drugs that are marketed as purported cures for COVID-19.

“Their obvious motivation is money,” Lane said.

The crimes, because of the dollar amounts and/or computer aspect, are felonies. But rarely are the criminals caught.

“Most of these reports go unsolved just because … most of the scammers are not in the United States, they’re foreign nationals,” Lane said. “It’s well outside our jurisdiction.”

And those that are in the US are good at what they do and can avoid being caught.

“For the most part the scammers are very well-versed in insulating themselves and protecting their identity,” Lane said. “I don’t say that to be discouraging. But there’s a reason why the scammers are so prolific. They are successful at spoofing those numbers.”

If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, contact Xenia Police Division at 937-372-9901.


By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.