10 Talks Acadiana: Eye on Scams for May 2021 (PODCAST)

Podcast

In this ‘Eye on Scams’ podcast, News 10 Anchor Sylvia Masters talks with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana’s Chris Babin, about scams targeting people in the Acadiana area. 

College and high school students who hire online “tutors” to complete their class assignments are finding themselves the victims of extortion cons.

The BBB has received reports about scam tutors who make money by threatening to report cheating students. The scam works by taking advantage of students struggling in classes. Some students search online for “tutors” who will actually do the work for the struggling student. Victims report paying a couple hundred dollars for “help” with assignments for math and technology classes– As soon as you pay up, things don’t go as you expect. Instead of helping you complete your homework, the company instead demands more money. They may claim it’s for “additional research” or make other excuses.

Did you receive a text with a survey about your vaccine? Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana is warning the text is likely a scam. This time, the phony survey claims to be from pharmaceutical company Pfizer, with questions about their COVID-19 vaccine. Consumers receive an email or text message claiming to be from Pfizer, one of the pharmaceutical companies producing an approved COVID-19 vaccine. In some versions of the scam, the message claims that you will receive money for completing a quick survey. Other versions offer a “free” product. 

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased demand for pets as people sought to add a pet to the family to help ease the loneliness and tension.  With this rising demand, scammers have continued to take advantage of consumers.  We continue to see instances in which an online search ends with a would-be pet owner paying hundreds of dollars or more to purchase a pet that ultimately doesn’t exist. Most scammers ask you to pay through a digital wallet such as Zelle or Venmo. Scammers may also request victims use a pre-paid debit card or gift card. Although this scam mostly involves dogs, it can also include cats and other pets. 

Crowdfunding campaigns are helping to raise money for those affected by the widespread coronavirus cancellations and closures. These online fundraisers are supporting everything from continuing free school lunch programs to assisting out-of-work hospitality industry employees. Crowdfunding can make supporting – and raising money for – a good cause easier than ever, but it’s not without issues. Con artists can use crowdfunding platforms to deceive donors and steal money for personal use. Or the money can be raised with the best intentions, but not end up used for its stated purpose.

One of scammers’ most common tactics is to impersonate someone you trust. BBB Scam Tracker is getting reports of scammers impersonating cable company representatives. Con artists claim to offer a great deal on your service, but it’s really a way to trick unsuspecting customers into shelling out hundreds of dollars for nothing. You receive an unsolicited call offering you reduced rates on your cable bill. Speaking to the “customer service representative” may be quite convincing. Many scammers use the same hold music as big-name cable companies and duplicate a company’s caller menu.

The BBB is warning consumers of scammers impersonating a local electric company.  This is a not a new con, scammers frequently impersonate water, electric, and gas company representatives. This scam is most common in the winter and summer months when people are most likely to need their heat or air conditioning. In this particular scam, residents and businesses are receiving a telephone call from a someone claiming to be from Entergy.  The scammer informs you that payment is overdue and the utility will be shut off if you don’t pay up immediately. According to a local business owner that received this scam call, the scammer stated they were two months overdue on their bill and instructed them to make a payment of $2100 via Bitcoin (a form of cryptocurrency that works similarly to wire transfer) or the power would be disconnected.  The business stated that the call came from an 800 number and when you called the number back, they answered as Entergy.    

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