Scammers targeting relief money

Local News

Scammers are responsible for stealing over $500 million from American consumers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One reason for the surge in scams could be that so many people are more susceptible during challenging times.

“These scammers are very sophisticated, and they prey on people’s vulnerabilities,” said Kim McCaslin, Associate Vice President of Operations at the Greater Erie Community Action Committee.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking because these are good hardworking people who are just trustworthy,” McCaslin added.

Among other common COVID-19 related scams are “home scams.”

Home scams have increased during the pandemic as millions of American renters are facing eviction.

“People have an increased sense of urgency to be able to figure out what their housing situation is, and it makes them that much more vulnerable,” said Noelle Melton, Vice President of National Homeownership Programs and Lending at NeighborWorks America.

National housing organizations, like NeighborWorks America work to create affordable housing opportunities and protect vulnerable homeowners and renters from scams.

The organization launched their “Stop Home Scams” initiative to combat the rise of home scams during the pandemic.

The initiative seeks to empower vulnerable homeowners and renters to protect themselves against home scams through their national public education campaign.

Melton says there are some telltale signs that you’re dealing with a home scam.

“Anyone who’s going to guarantee to assist your payment or avoid foreclosure or eviction. Companies that tell you to stop paying your mortgage or rent,” said Melton.

In addition, be sure to never give money to anyone besides your mortgage company or landlord, never share banking information or your social security number.

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