Consumer Alert: Small business owners beware of COVID-19 relief fund scam

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) – With a new COVID-19 relief package rolling out soon, scammers aren’t letting up. Con artists are now targeting small businesses, claiming they’re missing out on Coronavirus relief funding they’ve never heard of.

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Small business owners will receive unsuspected calls, emails or messages via social media regarding COVID-19 relief funds.

“For any grants or stimulus checks, you do not have to pay money as a business owner,” said Roseann Freitas, the Better Business Bureau Hawaii Marketplace Manger. “So do not give them that information about your company, do not pay that money, because you won’t get it back.”

That’s the warning from the BBB to small businesses as scammers ramp up their tactics.

“They’re going to call you and say ‘hey, there’s another grant that you just didn’t know about and you’re already behind the eight ball, so let’s go ahead and start that application.’ Some of the key differences is they’re going to ask you for a processing fee.”

Once the con artists get that fraudulent processing fee, they’ll be gone for good.

In some cases, these offers may seem like they’re coming from someone trustworthy. Scammers are either hacking social media accounts or creating fake profiles by stealing photos and personal information.

“You’re lucky if all they take is your money. Hopefully they don’t get any more additional information about your bank accounts or any other access to input personal information as well as your business information.”

The BBB says, if your business is awarded a government grant, the government will never ask you to pay fees to receive it, always double check claims before you sign up, and be careful even if the offer comes from a friend.

For questions and concerns, the BBB suggests reaching out to experts like themselves or the Small Business Administration.

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