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Sean D. Reyes
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Utah Fraud Squad: Watch Out for Stimulus Package Scams

April 15, 2020

Today, the Utah Department of Commerce launched a new website aimed at informing Utahns of the latest COVID-19 scams, such as scams involving the federal stimulus package. View the Utah Fraud Squad website here.

Starting this week, most Utahns will receive money as the result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package providing emergency assistance to the American people, businesses and health care providers amid the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The package includes a one-time direct cash payment to individuals and families across the country to help them financially weather this crisis.

Unfortunately, the bill’s passage has opened up a brand-new opportunity for scammers to take advantage of vulnerable people during an emergency situation.

Taxpayers should be advised that the Internal Revenue Service will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. There are no fees or charges associated with receiving the payment. No one from the federal government will call, email or text message you and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number. Anyone who does this is a scammer.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the checks will be sent out for people who have been working and paying taxes since 2018.  Anyone calling and telling you they can get the check to you sooner is a scammer. We advise you to not answer calls, emails or text messages from phone numbers or email addresses you do not know. Do not click on links from unsolicited emails or text messages. If you do answer a phone call and realize it is not someone you know, just hang up.

The Treasury Department plans to run a public awareness campaign for those who have not filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019. Information will be posted as it becomes available online on www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Stay aware of the latest scams by visiting the Utah Department of Commerce Utah Fraud Squad website.

To report scams, call the Utah Division of Consumer protection at 801-530-6601 or 1-800-721-7233, or visit them online at: consumerprotection.utah.gov.

Read the Department of Commerce press release regarding the Utah Fraud Squad website here.

Scammer Uses Facebook Messenger, Impersonates Utah AG

August 16, 2019

Recently, scammers impersonating Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes have contacted victims through Facebook Messenger offering a grant worth thousands of dollars — for a small fee. The scammer directed the victim to a bogus personal page where they went through a series of grant application questions. Once the application was “approved”, the victims sent payment and received a grant check in return. The check bounced, of course, but by then the scammer had disappeared, along with the victim’s money.

Another victim reported that the scammer supplied a phone number that the victim could use to contact “Sean Reyes” further. The victim contacted us worried that the grant offer was fraudulent, and we were able to confirm that neither our office nor the Attorney General, were involved in this and that it was indeed a scam.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have heard of a scam of this nature. In September 2018, we released a similar warning regarding a scammer who was impersonating the Utah Attorney General through Facebook Messenger. Our team of Investigators is working diligently to put an end to these scams.

At this time, we would like to emphasis our tips to protect yourself from fraud, and especially of the following if you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the Utah Attorney General’s Office:

  1. Don’t wire money.

True lotteries, sweepstakes, or grants awarded do not ask for money – not for shipping and handling, taxes, or customs. State officials and agencies do not typically ask people to send money for prizes, grants, unpaid loans, or to avoid being thrown in jail. When they do, they follow a formalized process.

  1. Stop and think.

With any online or phone transaction that you conduct, always look up the business or entity online to make sure they are reputable. This goes for anyone asking for money or personal information. Technology makes it easy for scammers to alter their identity and assume someone else’s. If the offer references a state agency or official, contact the respective office through a confirmed phone number or email to verify its validity before moving forward. You can also check with the Utah Consumer Protection Division and the Utah Better Business Bureau to see if the person/organization is credible.

  1. Do not share your financial or personal information.

If you receive a call about a debt that you believe may be legitimate, contact that business or entity directly. Whether it’s over the phone, email, social media, or in person, don’t give out your personal information. This includes banking and financial information, your birthdate, and social security number.

  1. Contact us. 

If you receive a message, call, or email from someone claiming to be someone from our office or any other official, please contact our office to report and verify whether or not it is real at 801-281-1200 or uag@agutah.gov. 

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