Chesapeake Sheriff's Office educates seniors about rise in coronavirus scams

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Posted at 4:03 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 16:57:20-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va.— The Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office says it’s seen a rise in coronavirus-related scams targeting their older population.

Now, the department is fighting back to keep seniors safe.

“We feel it's very important to interact with them, let them know what's going on community and the safeguards that can help them,” said Chesapeake Sheriff Jim O’Sullivan.

They say the virus has given predators new opportunities to target seniors.

“They will contact them and say, ‘Hey, your name's been reported as being close to an individual who has a virus and we need to get your information. What's your name, date of birth, social security number address?’” said O’Sullivan.

That’s why the sheriff’s office is working to educate seniors so they have the upper hand the next time a scammer thinks they’ll fall for one of their tricks.

“When you’re a bit naïve about a subject, it can be hard to know where to begin,” said Karen Christy, Recreation Coordinator for Senior Programs at Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Through a partnership with Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the sheriff’s office was able to reach out to active members of Chesapeake’s 22 senior clubs to participate in a virtual “Scams & Safety-COVID-19 Misinformation” session Wednesday.

O’Sullivan says seniors can become isolated and lonely, especially during the pandemic, and are more likely to respond instead of ignore scammers.

“We wanted to personalize it. We want them to hear from us the city employees from the people that they know and trust,” says Christy.

Related: FBI warns about coronavirus scams happening in Hampton Roads

Trust can be dangerous if it’s abused by someone trying to take advantage of an unsuspecting person.

O’Sullivan shared these tips to help everyone be on guard: “Do not give out any information on any circumstances, do not mail out money to the IRS saying that it's an overpayment under any circumstance, and do not donate to anything where somebody reaches out to you for a donation under any circumstance. And if you ever get a robocall, hang up.”

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