Verify, don’t be a victim — Be aware of attempted fraud

Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

State auditor Shad White warns of fraud schemes during COVID-19 outbreak.

According to White, fraud schemes become more rampant in times of emergency. To help protect Mississippians from being victims of fraud, his office has released a list of agencies to contact if they see a fraud scheme.

“As a Certified Fraud Examiner, I’m alarmed by the number of schemes we’re seeing pop up around Mississippi and on social media,” said White. “Everyone needs to stay vigilant and use common sense in times like these. Please report each of these schemes as you see them so the proper authority is alerted and can begin work.”

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If someone is promising a stimulus check, they may ask for bank account information. Individuals should contact the Internal Revenue Service about stimulus checks. Stimulus fraud schemes can be reported to the Department of Justice or the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

Fraud involving anything related to COVID-19 such as testing kits, cures, immunity pills and protective equipment should be reported to the National Center for Disease Fraud.

Be suspicious of anyone coercing you to buy stock from a stock based on how the company is combatting COVID-19. This is referred to as “pumping and dumping.” Fraud like this should be reported to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Phishing refers to a type of fraud where hackers send emails containing links. By clicking on the links, they may get access to personal information. Look for misspelled words and email addresses. This type of fraud can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.

Price gouging and hoarding can be reported to the state’s Attorney General.

Charity fraud scammers pretend to represent organizations that may not exist. Be sure to verify any charity or nonprofit organization. This type of fraud can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

Be wary of unexpected phone calls from unrecognizable numbers. Illegal telemarketers can be reported to the Mississippi Public Service Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

Vendor fraud occurs when a company uses public corruption or uses fake monies and invoices to steal public money. This can be reported to the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor.

Theft of government property while employees are working from home can be reported to the Office of the State Auditor or the local police.

“What’s most alarming about many of these schemes is that our elderly often seem to be the targets of the fraudsters,” said White. “Please tell your older loved ones to be on the lookout and to be suspicious of any pandemic-related sales pitches directed to the elderly.”


Story by Gracie Byrne