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Pima County Attorney forms anti-fraud unit

Sees a high need pushed higher by COVID scams
Scams of 2020
Posted at 7:59 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 07:59:57-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — COVID has helped spread another sort of infection -- an epidemic of scams. Pima County’s new County Attorney is building an anti-fraud task force to protect you from rip-offs.

COVID has left a lot of people isolated and afraid---the perfect opportunity for scam artists looking to leverage your fear.

Newly elected County Attorney Laura Conover says, “It's a sense of urgency. It's a sense of fear that you should be afraid that you should act quickly, and usually send money in some form or fashion.”

Conover says COVID-specific scams may include a claim that you can pay to jump to the head of the line for vaccinations--you can’t.

And technology can help scammers make you think they’re someone legitimate. They can trick your caller ID so it looks like the call comes from a legitimate government agency.

Conover says fraud and scams are always a danger with or without a pandemic. She says the Pima County Attorney’s Office hasn’t had a dedicated anti-fraud unit for many years, so she’s formed one and has already met with law enforcement from throughout Pima County.

“And it was a fantastic opportunity to just start sharing the intel, the patterns, and to work collaboratively together so that we're not missing some of the trends," she said.

She says another trend, fueled by the fact more people are working from home, is home improvement rip-offs.

“People start knocking on doors at homes and saying, we're working on a house in the neighborhood and we have all this unfinished material, you know, why don't we do a project for you, because we have all this extra material here. And that's where we see people, you know, paying for things they don't really need or paying upfront and the service never even comes through,” Conover said.

Conover says it’s a red flag whenever someone demands that you do something right now.

If they claim to be from an agency or company, hang up, look up their number on your own and call to verify.

Her department’s new website is still coming together but already has a link where you can report fraud.