As has been the case in the past, criminals continue to create new types of scams that they inflict upon the public. There are several that have become popular of late;  two involving unemployment and two that are Covid-related.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs (CCDCA)  is warning residents to ignore an email or text that notifies them of an error in their unemployment claim.  “The text is a scam,” noted CCDCA officials.  “Clicking on the link takes people to a spoof website that prompts people to input Social Security numbers and PINs.  The scam site was designed to look like an Ohio Department of Job and Family Services webpage. After people enter their personal information, the fake site redirects them to the actual state unemployment page.”

Another unemployment scam is an email from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services confirming an unemployment claim from a person claiming to be an employee. The CCDCA recommends to those receiving the scam unemployment notice to contact or call 833-658-0394.

Lieutenant. Keith Tarase of the North Royalton Police Department (NRPD), stated that they have received 29 fraud complaints from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, and has dramatically increased to 135 complaints from January 1, 2021, to the present.  From January of 2020 through October of 2020, the NRPD received about 57 fraud complaints.  “We are seeing almost ten unemployment scams a day,” said Tarase.  “We really didn’t see the unemployment scams come in until the beginning of this year,” he noted. “We are not the only state that is getting it.”  He went on to say that “One of the detectives that has been looking at the unemployment scams noted that it had been done with residents who had recently refinanced a home, so there might have been a data breech.”

Two COVID-19 scams are being warned against from the CCDCA and Cuyahoga County Board of Health.  “One scam is an emailed “survey” that baits people into participating by offering bogus $90 rewards for sharing their opinions about the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines,” according to Cuyahoga County officials.  “Do not open or click on any links on the email, including the unsubscribe button.  The other is a phone scam in which an imposter contact tracer asks people for their Social Security number. Legitimate contact tracers never request Social Security numbers or payment information.”  The Federal Trade Commission recommends that residents “never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you, or your bank account or credit card number.  The Social Security Administration will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards.  Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.”

The Department of Consumer Affairs recommends these steps to avoid scams:

  • Don’t answer calls you aren’t expecting, unless they’re family. If you accidentally pick up a robocall, hang up.
  • Don’t trust caller IDs. Numbers can be spoofed.
  • Delete vague or threatening voicemails. Do not call the numbers back—you’ll only get more calls.
  • If you worry about the status of your Social Security account, contact the agency in person or by calling 1-800-772-1213.
  • Know that legitimate government agencies will never ask you to pay using an e-currency account (for example, Bitcoin), Google Play or other gift cards, mailed cash or money wires.
  • If someone calls to tell you that you’re about to be arrested, hang up! It’s a scam. Police don’t warn people they are on the way to arrest them.

Scammers usually use the telephone and mail to institute scams.  They may change the type of scam, but they are always after the same thing: money and/or identity.  Generally speaking, the DCA recommends that if you hear these types of “lines” from a caller, in a letter, or from someone in person, just say “no thank you”:

“You’ve won big money in a sweepstakes, prize or foreign lottery.”

“You must send money right away.”

“You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.”

“You don’t need to check our company with anyone”

“We’ll just put the shipping and handling charges on your credit card.”

“You cannot afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”

“It is guaranteed.”

“This is (government agency) calling because you are a good citizen and we have money to give you or you owe us money.”

“We’ve just finished a home improvement job nearby and have material left over so we can do your job for half the price.”

“Do not tell anyone about this.”

Residents should report scams to Scam Squad at 216-443-SCAM (7226) or


Contributing  Writer