BBB warns of COVID-related romance scam

Troubleshooters:  Help for Sinton couple seeking an iron gate
Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-01 19:20:02-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — How many times have we heard the phrase "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?"

The U.S. Secret Service, the FBI, CCPD and the Better Business Bureau are talking tonight about the latest scam to hit the Coastal Bend.

Katie Galan with the Better Business Bureau says it starts on a dating site, and then there’s a conversation that, hypothetically, goes something like this:

“Hey, I have a relative who has COVID-19 and I’m gonna send them money. Do you mind sending this money on my behalf to them?”

Galan and others call it the typical romance scam.

But the scam here is, the suspects are stealing money from unemployment accounts, federal dollars, and then, according, to a U.S. Secret Service Agent, using single women they find on dating sites, to move it where they can access it.

Here’s another part of this scam.

“Once you receive it, you can keep a small portion of that money, then I need you to send the bulk of that money wherever it was.”

Several federal agencies are investigating because the money is from the government’s CARES Act.

“Whenever suspects or criminals find a way to obtain money fraudulently, that money still needs to be laundered so they can use it,” the Secret Service agent told us.

The Secret Service and the BBB tell us there are at least three cases they’re investigating in Corpus Christi.

And there’s a lot of money involved.

“The total loss we’re looking at is at least in the five figures," the agent told us.

CCPD’s Travis Pace says the first step potential victims should take is to contact your bank.

Then the CCPD.

And always be suspicious.

“It’s O.K. to be suspicious of individuals because there area a lot of individuals out there who are trying to take advantage of you," Pace said. "Unfortunately a lot of the senior citizens in our community seem to be the targets of these scams.”