I must have felt a chill because I sensed pure evil — or else it was cold in the house. Either way, I was the target of a scam. It started when I received a message from someone I knew before elementary school but wasn’t very active on Facebook.   

“Oh, hi, how are you? I want to know how you’re doing during this, you know, the COVID.” I thought that was so nice! Here was a guy with an empty timeline — and when he logged on for the first time in years, he thought of me.

“Did you know about the Facebook grants that they’re giving that you don’t have to pay back?” I said, no, I didn’t know about that. “I got $150,000 for free money and I don’t have to pay it back from Facebook,” he responded. “If you want to apply now, tell them that you’re my friend, and I can get you approved.” 

I immediately Googled it to see if there was such a thing, and there is. But I still knew that something was wrong. 

“Okay, if this is really you, prove it to me. Tell me something that only you would know about me. Tell me how we met.”

“I have amnesia. I am reaching out to all of my friends to get my memory back,” he typed. Where there was once a passing attempt at telling a believable story, he now seemed frantic. I told him that I reported him to Facebook and he didn’t respond.

This is only one of the new scams that have popped up to take advantage of people’s suffering during the pandemic. Scam artists are also impersonating the Treasury Department, phishing for people’s bank account information for the purported purpose of depositing more stimulus cash.

Instead of being bewildered at the potential mankind has for cruelty, protect yourself. Facebook is not going to communicate with you via your friends. The IRS will never ask for your routing and account number over the phone or in an email.

One way to short-circuit scammers’ efforts is to work with a financial concierge. Especially one who is not afraid to go toe to toe with criminals…from the comfort of her own home.