I-TEAM: Scammers sending mysterious masks to CSRA mailboxes
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- We've all heard of scams where you pay for something, it never arrives. This one appears to be the opposite.
"Handkerchief $20. And I was like, handkerchief? I didn't order a handkerchief," Bridget Zimmerman said.
The package had Zimmerman's name on it, and her address in Gibson, too. It wasn't a handkerchief, though.
It was a mask.
"That really caught my attention then, so I was like, 'why would they send this when I didn't order it?'" Zimmerman said. "Why would they call it a handkerchief? And why is it open? Like, who would use that?"
Zimmerman sure didn't. Neither did a McDuffie County mother who received two masks. Same goes for a family in the Thomson-Dearing area that got one too.
All say the same thing -- they did not order masks.
"I get what chill bumps just talking about it," Zimmerman said. "Just because it's that creepy, you know, especially because Gibson's so small. Like I said, we're literally out here in the middle of nowhere!"
It apparently happened in the Boston suburbs, too, according to The Boston Globe. A woman also received a mask from "The Minhang district of Shanghai, China" that "she never ordered, either." She called the police.
Zimmerman also reached out to law enforcement. The Glascock County Sheriff's Office sent our I-Team an incident report documenting her mysterious mask mailed from "the Minhang district in Shanghai."
"I was told to watch for unknown cars, watch my bank account, and, you know, dispose of it immediately," Zimmerman said.
That didn't exactly make her feel comfortable. The McDuffie County mother is a bit uneasy, too, especially because she received two masks for children. She just so happens to have two kids.
"Every thought was, you know, crossing my mind," Zimmerman said. "What can I do? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to burn it? Is it safe for the garbage people to have in there, I don't know, I really don't know what to do."
That's why she also reached out to the I-Team and why we reached out to the Better Business Bureau.
Hunter Jones writes: "Although we do not have any reports on mailed masks yet, this sounds a lot like the Medicare back brace billing scheme."
In other words -- a scam.
Here's how it worked: the scammer sent the product. Later, they sent a bill and even tried to "scare" people into paying it. The back brace one was especially troubling because it involved the "victim giving out their Medicare number (which is often your SSN)."
It's yet another example of scammers targeting the elderly.
That's exactly who Zimmerman worries could be most at risk here, too.
"They're telling you to wear a mask. It'll save your life, and masks are so hard to find," Zimmerman said. "What if I put that on? What if they had done something to the mask and put it on, and it hurts them?"
So again, the best thing to do if you get a mask you didn't order is to throw it away. If anyone tries to get you to pay for it later, don't send them a dime.
The Federal Trade Commission says you are allowed to keep something you didn't order if it's specifically sent to your name and your address -- and you don't owe any money for it.