FBI Portland
Portland Media Office
(503) 460-8060
March 2, 2021

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against COVID-19 Good Samaritan Frauds

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against fake Good Samaritans.

Thanks to COVID, many families are having trouble keeping food on the table and paying their bills. Of course, this means that scam artists will try to take advantage of what is already a desperate situation. The Oregon FBI is getting reports that people are seeing—and responding to—offers of assistance on social media platforms and elsewhere.

The Good Samaritan is offering to send a few hundred—or even a few thousand dollars—in your time of need. In one version of the scam, the fraudster sends you a cashier’s check. The supposed benefactor may ask you to forward some of the money on to a third person (which is usually back to him) or he may tell you that he accidentally sent you too much and ask you to return some of it.

In another version of the scam, he sends you funds by Zelle or some other cash app. He manages to gain access to your bank account and transfers money to himself instead of to you.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Look for established, reputable charities to help you and your family.
  • Be suspicious of people or groups offering help through social media. Do research to ensure the person or group is legitimate before accepting any funds.
  • If you are unsure whether a check is real, check with your bank before depositing.
  • Don’t forward money to a third party. The scammer may be using you to launder funds or act as a money mule—both of which can get you in trouble legally.

If you believe you are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.