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WHEELING, W.VA. (WTRF) — Criminals are using COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments as cover for schemes to steal personal information and money. 

And in these trying times, that’s when the scavengers come out. A special agent stationed in Washinton D.C. says fraud is at its highest, and where financial information is at its most vulnerable. 

There are bogus companies saying they have a cure for COVID-19 and others asking for you to invest in creating a vaccine. If they reach out to you, don’t buy it. And if scammers couldn’t stoop lower, the IRS Criminal Investigator says even fake charities are being setup. 

The financial vulnerability being felt throughout the nation has created groups founded on compassion, and others forged with selfish intent. Similar crime rates to that of what was seen in the wake of other national crises.  

The scams run the gamut right now. It reminds me also like 9-11. There were lots of scams that came as a result. There’s a lot of money out there. There’s a lot of programs that are set up to help those that are truly in need of financial help, you’re going to see fraud.

Kelly Jackson, Special Agent for Washington D.C. field officer of IRS Criminal Investigation

In regard to the EI Payments, The IRS does not send emails, texts or calls. So, if you get one of those posing as the IRS, now you’ll know it’s fake. 

And Jackson says become your own investigator. If a company sounds fishy, look it up. 

Or report COVID-19 fraud to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. 

If there is fraud suspected for EIP, report it here. Or if you suspect IRS fraud, you can send it here.