Local law enforcement is stressing caution to avoid scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d say it’s coming,” Jimmy Davis, Loudon County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, said. “We got a notice yesterday or today in email talking about scams from one of our resources we use for investigative tools and stuff like that. ... Scams of testing, test results, treatments and things of that nature for people that are just in panic about getting it or if they’ve got it or some kind of remedy for it.
“... For testing or anything like that, I wouldn’t do any type of testing unless it’s through your primary care physician,” he added.
So far LCSO has not seen much activity, which Inv. Sgt. Charlie Cosner credits to local officials getting ahead of the issue.
“Both the sheriff and the mayor both put out press releases or on their Facebook, stuff that’s talking about, ‘Hey, watch for scams. The IRS is not going to call you and ask you for your Social Security number or your bank account.’ All that stuff they already have,” Cosner said.
Law enforcement remains vigilant. Cosner asks residents to use common sense.
“If it feels wrong, if it feels like you’re getting scammed, you probably are,” he said. “Always verify, that’s the big thing. ... The public needs to know, for one, if we call you it’s going to come from the justice center. If you don’t believe us, you’re more than welcome to hang up, find our phone number, don’t even ask us for the phone number, but find our phone number and call. If nothing else, we’ll send an officer out to you and everything. Another thing is we’re not going to ask for money, period.”
Common scams include taking the identity of someone from the IRS, U.S. Marshal’s Office or local law enforcement, claiming a person owed money or there was a warrant for the victim’s arrest.
“They’ll ask for either a Green Dot money order or Google cards or some sort of maybe an iTunes card, stuff like that, to put money on that and give them the number,” Cosner said. “What happens in those cases if they do that and they follow through that, really no way to trace that. Typically it goes overseas somewhere and they’re just out that money. We’ve had several where it’s several thousand dollars that they’ve been scammed out of.”
Davis also warns to watch for people claiming to perform a service, such as cutting trees or paving a driveway, and asking for a certain amount of money up front.
“The most famous ones are people who have leftover asphalt,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘We’ll pave your driveway,’ and things like that. Those aren’t good people to trust because if they’re selling that asphalt they’ve already been paid for that asphalt or they’re over-appraising or over-estimating. I wouldn’t really bother with anybody coming to your door. I would check the with people that you know, the resources that they know and things like that.”