Scammers tell Illinois seniors they must buy a COVID testing kit

National Coronavirus Coverage

MADISON COUNTY, Ill. (KTVI) – There’s a warning in Madison County, Illinois about a phone scam targeting senior citizens, saying they need to buy a COVID-19 testing kit.

According to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, the caller claims to be a contact tracer and tells a senior citizen they have been exposed to COVID-19 and that they need to buy a test kit. The caller has a very aggressive high-pressure approach.

“They are going to prey on our vulnerabilities and our fears,” said Captain Kristopher Tharp, Madison County Sheriff’s Department. “They’re going to place urgency on that particular moment to try to get you to send money while you’re on the phone and they’re going to usually say threat of arrest and some type of a fine that will be imposed for not following through.”

Tharp says they know of a few senior citizens who have received the scammer calls but they suspect hundreds of people have been contacted.

“This scam and others like it are coming at a record pace due to the pandemic right now, a lot of people are at home, they’re not getting out like they normally do (and) they’re answering their phones,” he said.

Madison County also posted a fact sheet about contact tracing calls saying real contact tracers won’t ask you for money your bank account or credit card number. Authorities believe the phony calls are coming from another country.

If you receive such a phone call, you’re asked to contact your local police department.

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