CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division is warning Ohio taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19 related scams.
According to a press release, scammers are finding ways to steal money and personal information as the second round of stimulus checks are delivered.
“Criminals have used the Economic Impact Payments and the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to steal from and profit off of victims,” said Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office. “Being aware of some of the scams can help you protect yourself from falling victim to fraud.”
Some common COVID-19 scams include:
- Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
- Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including account numbers and passwords).
- The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments).
- Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
- Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov.