COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — This past year, Better Call 4 discovered several local scams designed to steal people’s identity and money. This story is a look back at the most important deceptions NBC4 uncovered in 2021, so you and your loved ones don’t fall victim.
False unemployment claims
Brandy Lee contacted Better Call 4 concerned and confused after receiving dozens of unemployment claims listing her as the employer. She repeatedly tried to contact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
“It’s nearly impossible to get through to them,” Lee said. “It just says they’re busy, to call back later.”
NBC4 was able to get in contact with the ODJFS and discovered Lee was a victim of fraud.
“We do know that there is very likely international engagement, but then there is stateside fraudulent activity, fraudsters, impacting our system as well,” ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says a team of banking and insurance experts are now assisting ODJFS in answering every call, processing claims, and addressing fraud.
“The director and I started talking about bringing in some private sector experts to form a high level, rapid response partnership,” Gov. DeWine said.
Debit cards sent to victim’s house
Susan, who didn’t want to share her last name, called Better Call 4, after four letters containing U.S. Bank relia-cards were sent to her mother’s vacant home addressed to various people.
ODJFS confirmed to NBC4 that the cards, containing thousands of dollars in benefits on them, were a result of fraud.
Scammers use another person’s identity to file a claim but the debit cards ended up at the victim’s home because the address is associated with their information.
“When I opened these, I was concerned,” Susan said. “My obvious thing would have been to put them in the shred bin.”
U.S. bank confirmed to NBC4 that is exactly what Susan should do. A spokesperson from U.S. Bank says if you receive a card with benefits you did not apply for, report it to the ODJFS and U.S. Bank and destroy the cards.
Business has not provided service already paid for
In July 2020, Cheryl Laferty ordered a headstone for her late husband’s gravesite from Yauger Monumental Works in London, Ohio. She paid around $1,000 with the rest to be paid once in place. But when she didn’t hear from the company for months, she called Better Call 4. After several attempts to get a response from Yauger Monumental Works, NBC4 went to the business where only a sign hangs, citing an “illness” as the reason for closure.
NBC4 then went to city hall where Mayor Patrick Closser told us the city or law enforcement cannot take action against the business unless customers take action first.
“There have not been any charges filed at this point, but I am taking that into consideration,” Laferty said.
Customers can also report any issues with this company, or any other business to the Ohio attorney general’s office.
You can contact Better Call 4 at 614-212-4444 or visit nbc4i.com/Better-Call-4.