Sheriff’s Office warns of new scam involving purchase of gift cards for those affected by COVID-19

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CEDAR CITY — The Iron County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public about a scam that is circulating related to gift cards and the new coronavirus.

Sheriff’s Lt. Del Schlosser told Cedar City News the scam involved a person texting and calling members of a specific congregation claiming to be the clergy. The scammer was asking the congregation to purchase gift cards for a member who was allegedly in the hospital due to the coronavirus, and provide the gift card number.

“A person did fall victim to this because they actually purchased them and gave them the information,” Schlosser said. “We’re putting this out more as a ‘Hey, people are taking advantage of the coronavirus.’

Schlosser said the new scam currently only involved one particular congregation but that it may hit others as well.

The Sheriff’s Office did not release information related to the congregation that was targeted; however, in the original Sheriff’s Office Facebook post informing the community of the COVID-19 scam, the pastor of Sonrise Christian Church said it had affected their congregation. Cedar City News attempted to reach the pastor, but as of publication of this article, there has been no response.

In the post, the Sheriff’s Office also provided information about other common scams, including scammers sending fake checks and then asking the recipient to wire some of the cash back. The Sheriff’s Office also warned of the “relative” scam, where someone calls claiming to be a family member in legal or health distress and asking the person to send money.

The post also encouraged community members to research charities before making any donations through the Better Business Bureau or the State Consumer Protection Office.

More information and resources can be found through the Iron County Sheriff’s Office website or the Official Guide to Government Information and Services.

The Utah Department of Commerce also recently warned people of investment scams and price gouging specific to COVID-19.

The Federal Communications Commission also provides information for consumers on COVID-19 scams and safety tips. Scams listed by the FCC include a test kit phone scam, offering fake coronavirus test kits and a scam claiming to suspend someone’s Social Security number due to suspicious activity.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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