Text message scams are a favorite tool of COVID cons, experts warn

Scam artists know you have time on your hands and they know you may have a stimulus check in your bank, or one on the way.  

The bad guys are using their time to figure out how to get at your money and Rob Wolchek is talking to experts to protect all of us.

"We've seen text messages that supposedly have come from the IRS, they have come from FEMA, supposedly,” said Laura Blankenship. “Those agencies are not going to text you."

Blankenship is with the Better Business Bureau. She says ‘smishing’ which is a fishing scam via cellphone text message, is all the rage during this pandemic.

There's one text message offering a COVID-19 immune booster. Click on that link and you may be dealing with a virus other than COVID-19 - you might be dealing with a malware virus.

Walgreens is busy right now. They're not doing any sweepstakes, like it says in one text making the rounds. And I'm guessing they know the right way to spell surprise.

Then, there's an employment offer randomly texted to someone. They're hoping you might take the bait and get burned.

So are all these things on the phone bogus?  A lot of them are, but a viewer contacted me with one he thought was a scam I'm glad he did, because it's better to safe than sorry.

"We've dealt with a scam before,” Doug said.

Doug is a hospital worker who uses the cash app.  

Since he got ripped off before, he sent me an offer he got on the app that he thought was suspicious regarding his stimulus money.

"It says, in the information I forwarded to you Rob, ‘Submit your direct deposit information to the IRS.  Many Cash App customers are entitled to economic relief under the CARE Act. You can receive your stimulus check earlier by providing your Cash App and routing numbers to the IRS. We'll show you how.'

Everyone is saying don't give out your banking numbers and then there's this supposed IRS site he was directed to asking for his personal info.

I forwarded the pages to both the real IRS and Laura at the BBB - and guess what - they say it's not a scam. 

“A simple Google search should be able to pop up reputable news sites or the reputable website itself that says whether or not they are partnering with that organization,” Blankenship said. “And that's what we were able to do today, to verify that the Cash App is in fact, working with the IRS on those stimulus checks."

Laura Blakenship with the BBB.

Doug says after being burned once, he's not taking any chances and is just going to wait for his check to come in the mail.

Personally, no one has been trying to get at my money lately – but they have been trying to get at my Facebook account.

So I have a Facebook fan page and I have a decent following - but get this – Facebook user “john smith” who obviously doesn't use capital letters when he writes his messages, wants to put ads on my Facebook page and it says right here "We can pay you good for that."

A Facebook account by the name of Cindy Williams wants to pay me for ads as well. 

And “Amira” wants to pay me $800 a week to put ads on my Facebook page.

Blankenship says she thinks this is a way to trick me into putting these alleged advertisers in as administrators of my account. But how come?

"Once they have access to your account then they can get access to other accounts,” she said.

You've seen those shopping sites that say, enter account info or log on using Facebook.  Then, a smart crook can order stuff and charge it to my account, or use my Facebook to trick someone who thinks they are hearing from Rob Wolchek.

The bottom line is beware of the COVID cons - because the cops aren't going to have much luck finding john smith, a guy with bad punctuation who contacted you via email.