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More Arizonans concerned about potential scams during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 12:23:19-05

PHOENIX — One Arizona woman questions a text message supposedly from the state. Another resident wants to know if the puppy she's trying to buy online really exists.

So, which one is a scam?

Two weeks after her COVID-19 test, Tori got a text claiming to be from the Arizona Department of Health Services. It said she needed to call them and that it was an urgent health matter.

We she called back to the 844 phone number it wouldn't go through. She also said the number she was instructed to call back was not legitimate and then wondered if it was a scam.

We presented her concern to the State and it turns out it was legitimate. A department spokesperson said it's "part of our statewide contact tracing efforts."

If you received a COVID-19 test and you get a text to call 602-675-8558 or 602-649-4339 you should make the call.

In a separate issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a boom in pet adoptions and sales. Kathleen wanted a puppy and sent $800 through her bank as the seller advised, but would she get the dog?

Honestpaws.com found puppy scams are up 280% this year based on complaints to the Better Business Bureau. Arizona had the 11th highest number of complaints, with people spending an average $707 and not getting the pet.

After Kathleen wired her money through Zelle, she said "I get a phone call from the 'shipping company.'" They wanted $1,500 for insurance on him that would be refunded when the puppy arrived.

This was a scam. When Kathleen questioned sending more money, the scammer couldn't be reached again and she lost the $800.

There are some big warning signs about this scam including:

-no in person visit allowed and very few pictures
-finding the same animal on multiple sites through searches like Google image
-asked to wire money upfront
-no health or breeding information provided