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Latest scam solicits donations to fight against coronavirus

Webster PD warns residents to avoid giving out personal information to these calls


It seems that some are using the coronavirus for their own personal gain. The Webster Police Department recently sent out a scam alert on social media warning residents of calls asking for donations, claiming they’re from an organization seeking to help law enforcement officers fight the coronavirus.

One of WPD’s sergeants received a landline call from someone claiming to be from the National Policeman’s Association.

“The caller, who was very well-spoken and convincing, was soliciting donations to the organization based upon a desire to help law enforcement officers involved in the fight against the coronavirus,” the alert said.

Suspicious of the caller’s intentions, the WPD sergeant asked for simple information, such as the caller’s name and contact info. The caller reportedly hung up immediately.

According to the alert, the caller ID showed a Bloomfield, NY number. When the sergeant tried to call the number, “the number was disconnected and not in service.”

WPD warned residents that Police Benevolent Associations do not solicit donations by phone, so people should not engage with these calls. Residents should hang up immediately if they receive such a call. WPD says the caller ID numbers “are likely spoofed and will not assist law enforcement with tracking down a suspect.”

Residents are strongly advised not to give out any personal information, credit card information, or banking details to anyone over the phone. WPD suspects that such solicitation calls will increase because these scammers are more aware now than ever that most people are at home due to COVID-19.

“Scammers will also take advantage of your desire to help, in some way, with our fight against coronavirus,” warned WPD.

WPD understands that many people may need to conduct sensitive personal business by phone due to businesses shutting down to the public. To ensure safety against scams, WPD advises to make sure you are the one initiating the call.

“Only initiate contact with businesses/banks/doctors offices/schools via customer service numbers published on legitimate web pages or in the phone book,” WPD advised.

According to Bankrate.com, there are three coronavirus scams to watch out for:

  • Fraudulent websites, such as IT-themed sites that claim to help you work remotely and coronavirus-themed sites that claim to track the disease or help the afflicted.

  • Emails offering products claiming to prevent the disease.

  • Calls or emails claiming “safe” or “guaranteed” investments.

  • The best defense, according to multiple sources: common sense.

WPD concluded its social media alert with the following statement:

“The best way to help with our current situation is to abide by the advice of our public health experts. Stay home. Maintain social distancing. Wash your hands frequently. Use technology to check on your friends, family, and neighbors. Take care of your own mental and physical health to the best of your ability. We will get through this together!”
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