Scammers conducting fake coronavirus ‘wellness checks’ in Northeast Ohio to steal personal information

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 2:01 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Scammers are capitalizing on Ohio’s effort to track the coronavirus spread.

Through our partnership with the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad, 19 News has learned that scammers are calling people pretending to do wellness checks.

A 77-year-old Glenville woman said she talked to one of the con artists last week.

She didn’t want to be identified in our story, after identifying herself to the possible scammer.

“He said oh we’re not trying to sell you anything, we just wanted to know how you are feeling during the pandemic," she said. “t was a person. It was not a robo call. It was a person.”

She says he was asking for a bunch of information, including the number on her medicare card.

“I gave it to him,” she said.

After that, she said he hung up, and she couldn’t get back in touch.

“When I called the number, they said that this is not a working number,” she said.

Consumer advocates say situations like this are happening more and more lately because Ohio is legitimately ramping up health contact tracing of the corona virus right now.

“[It’s] important to respond to that, but scammers are grabbing on to that,” Sheryl Harris at the Cuyhoga County Department of Consumer affairs said.

She said scammers are tricking people into believing they are conducting a study.

“People will call you and act like they are looking out for your good. ‘Hey we’re doing a health check, now give me your medicare number,’” Harris said.

Harris says that’s the tell tail sign that it’s not a legitimate heath tracer calling.

“Yes. If they contact you out of the blue and ask for personal information, like your social security number, your medicare number, a bank account number, they are a scammer,” Harris said.

Harris says the best thing to do is not engage at all.

A message the 77-year-old we talked to says she is now trying to spread, after making a report with the BBB about her experience.

“I told my two sisters because we are all seniors,” she said. “I was upset.”

If you believe you are the victim of a similar scam, you can file a report with the scam squad.

You also need to watch out for these versions of a coronavirus related scam:

  • Offers to help you get stimulus payments or grants
  • Threats to arrest you or seize your accounts
  • Offers to help you get Coronavirus tests, cures or vaccines
  • Calls or emails from sheriff, IRS or any government agency

Advocates say you should never pay or reveal private info (your Social Security or account numbers) to someone who contacts you.

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