The Lincoln Police Department (LPD) today reported it has seen an increase in the number of attempts to defraud people in the last six weeks, coinciding with the arrival of the coronavirus in our area. Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister today advised residents to be aware of this illegal activity and do what they can to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
"It's unfortunate that in every disaster, unscrupulous individuals will use people's fear or generosity to steal their money or identity," Mayor Gaylor Baird. "These scams and fraud take many forms, and no one is immune. Earlier this week, my name was used in fraudulent emails sent to City employees asking them to purchase gift cards. We all must be aware, be careful and report any attempted fraud to officials."
Jim Hegarty, President and CEO of the Regional Better Business Bureau for Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas, is asking the public to report any suspicious activity over the next few months as residents begin to receive federal funds.
"The coronavirus has created a 'perfect storm' for scammers," Hegarty said. "The BBB is warning that bad actors are coming out of the woodwork to exploit these circumstances to steal money and/or confidential information from consumers and businesses. Individuals, as well as businesses, are more likely to lose money to a scam when they are financially vulnerable, isolated from others, and spending more time online. As we encourage people to stay home to protect their health, it is more important than ever that individuals and businesses rely upon well established, trustworthy resources for information and advice."
LPD and the BBB offer the following advice:
Randy Jones, Director of Aging Partners also reminded older adults and their families that Medicare covers virtually all costs, including the lab test for COVID-19 and any medically necessary hospitalizations.
The following federal websites also include information on preventing scams and fraud:
More information on the City's response to COVID-19 is available at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov.