Refund offers could be a scam; Garfield Heights victim reports loss of $57,000

Updated: Aug. 24, 2020 at 1:18 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - If someone offers you a refund of any kind right now, you need to think twice before attempting to accept it.

Our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad say the offer could be a ploy from a con artist.

19 Investigates discovered that in some cases scammers can access your bank account if you accept.

One victim recently reporting a lost of almost $60,000.

Sheryl Harris with the Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs says her office has seen refund scam reports skyrocket in the last few months.

“A lot of people aren’t working. A lot of people have reduced income,” she said.

The current pandemic culture, she says has created a perfect scenario for scammers to swoop in with what appears to be “good news.”

“These scams are really meant to capitalize on people have a lot of financial worries right now, so they are saying we have money for you. It’s just so noticeable how many we’ve seen,” Harris said.

Harris said the scammers pose as a company you know and have done business with before, like Amazon or a utility company.

“They’re fishing for account information so they can get money from you,” she said.

In one case, a Garfield Heights resident reported losing $57,000.

In a report made with the BBB the victim said the scammer called and said they were due a refund on computer software the victim bought a couple years ago.

When the victim went online to get the refund, the scammer reportedly gained control of the computer and made several transfers out of the victim’s bank account.

Harris says the scams can come as phone calls like in that case, but more recently the trend is to send a text message.

“I think the texts might be a little more dangerous, because it’s like we owe you money; ‘Click here!‘” She said. “Your instinct is, ‘Oh, let’s hear about that!‘ So, you click the button.”

But, Harris hopes people hear her warning, they won’t be as fast to react that way.

If you need to report a refund scam, you can call the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad at 216-443-SCAM or make a report online.

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