East Cleveland man scammed during pandemic by someone posing as a bishop at his church

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 6:22 PM EDT
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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An East Cleveland man says he was scammed out of $1,000 by someone posing as a leader at his church.

“It just lets me know how unscrupulous people are, to take advantage of people right now when finances are so tight for everybody,” he said. “This is the most inopportune time for stuff like this to be happening.”

The victim asked that we change his voice and not identify him in this story.

But, he wants people to be warned.

“I don’t want anybody else to lose anything like this,” he said.

The victim is currently laid off because of COVID 19.

He says he got a text saying his name was on the list to receive grant money from the government.

The message appeared to be from a bishop at his church.

“They hijacked instant messenger, how I do not know,” the victim said.

He was asked to send hundreds of dollars in Ebay gift cards to get the grant.

But, when it didn’t come through, he realized he’d made big a mistake.

“I normally watch things like this. You know, I have high antennas for things like this,” he said.

Here’s what our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam squad want you to know:

Only imposter scammers will demand that you pay debts, fines or fees with money wires, E-currencies such as Bitcoin or retail gift cards.

Also, the government will never use text or instant messenger to reach you.

Making this man’s case worse, he says the money he lost is money he’d actually received from the state’s unemployment system.

“Even if you have unemployment, you are on a limited income, and for them to take advantage of that, is just sickening,” he said.

The victim in this story reported his experience to the Cleveland BBB.

It is one of our partners with the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad.

You can file a report with them, or contact the Scam Squad directly at 216-443-7035.

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