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Are you a government scam target? Imposters pretend to offer stimulus money

Can you spot the scam?
Posted at 5:00 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 22:17:42-04

PHOENIX — Where there is government money, there are scammers pretending they want to help you get it.

On Tuesday, federal authorities were on the Arizona AARP Facebook page, talking to Arizonans about fake stimulus and unemployment help.

FBI Special Agent Jeremy Capello said they're seeing government impersonators -- the scammers talk about stimulus checks and people getting too much money.

People are told they have to pay back the government, but that is not true. A lot of you are letting us know that you're seeing the same kind of scams.

Paula sent us emails she received stating, "you may still have one stimulus check owed to you."

She got another one that referenced an "unemployment benefits guide," and said there was a $347 money transfer for her.

Don got an email saying, "All seniors get $1,750 per week to stay home so they don't spread COVID-19."

That would be nice, but it's not true. The emails and texts all have links they want you to click, but if you click on them, you could allow hackers into your device.

To protect yourself, if you don't know the source, don't click on any link, open any email attachment, or give out personal information by phone.

The FBI says that government agencies will not contact you by phone or email about stimulus money and will never ask for it back.

They also will not solicit your personal information. And because money is tight for so many people, we're seeing other scams gaining new life.

We're hearing from desperate people trying to find cheap rentals on Craigslist. Tamara says she sent the supposed owner a deposit and she actually got in the rental unit.

Days later, she found out he never owned the place when police arrived and "kicked us out."

And with more people out of work, the fake job scam is back in a big way. Kirsti got an email from a legitimate sounding company that was hiring.

In fact, the "company" hired someone without even conducting a live interview. And they wanted to send money to set up a virtual home office.

Kirsti didn't bite. If she had, she would have received a big check that the scammers would tell her to deposit. Then she'd be asked to spend her own money in a way that would get back to the scammers.

Later, she'd find the check they sent, was fake all along.

The Federal Trade Commission has some good advice on avoiding these scams.