Scammers taking advantage of FEMA assistance for COVID-19 victims, take new approach to grandparent scam

Published: Apr. 18, 2021 at 4:49 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Consumer experts are warning about two scams - one of which has been around for a long time, but scammers are taking a new approach to it.

A Chilton resident is out a lot of money after falling for a new level of the grandparent scam.

According to Chilton police, the victim was called by someone claiming to be a relative, and said they needed bail money.

the calls continued all day before the victim was finally convinced to go to the bank and take out a large amount of money.

Then, police say a man pretending to be a courier showed up at the victim’s home to pick up the cash.

“Normally these things are happening from a different country, or far far away from here. For them to be able to actually show up at a door and get cash is a new level.”

While Chilton Police continue to investigate, they want people to be suspicious of others who reach out like this and say they need cash.

Police say since they went public with this story, they’re hearing from other agencies that are investigating similar cases.

Another scam experts are warning about targets grieving survivors of family members who died from COVID-19. The scammers offer to pay for funeral expenses, which can be confusing because there’s a real government relief program.

The FEMA Funeral Assistance program started just a few days ago, but FEMA says scammers are contacting people offering to register for assistance.

RELATED: FEMA to reimburse COVID-19 victims’ funeral costs

Action 2 News spoke with the Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection about this scam, who say these scams are being seen by the Federal Trade Commission across the country.

“There’s no reason to think it wouldn’t come here,” said Lara Sutherlin, the Administrator for the Wisconsin Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection. “It is taking advantage of a government stimulus package. That’s what these imposter scams do. They capitalize on what’s in the headlines and they use that information that we know to be accurate to advance a scam or a scheme to steal your money and your identity. You have the extra element of grief that adds to that vulnerability, and they don’t think straight, and they don’t look for red flags. They don’t think someone is going to take advantage of you in this particularly difficult time.”

Anyone who contacts you out of the blue and claims to be a federal employee, or asks for personal information or payment to get this financial help, is a scammer.

To access the real funeral assistance program through FEMA, CLICK HERE.

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