PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fifty-thousand dollars, $100,000 and $500,000 in coronavirus relief money is yours for the taking — no questions asked.
People in Pittsburgh are getting messages purportedly from mayoral candidate Ed Gainey saying this is legit. Only it isn’t. KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan uncovered this scam.READ MORE: Fox Chapel Plans To Turn Mister Rogers' Weekend Home Into Park
KDKA brought this to the attention of the Gainey campaign, which confirmed these are not messages from the candidate and is advising supporters to steer clear.
The messages, sent from a fake Facebook account bearing Gainey’s name and likeness, endorse something called the “Pandemic Intervention and Assistance Relief Fund” and directed the receiver to a website asking for an application.
After filling out the information, KDKA’s Andy Sheehan got a text saying he qualified. But there was a small catch — a delivery fee.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan sent a text to see how much it would cost to deliver a $50,000 check. He learned there would be a $550 delivery fee.
It has all the markings of a time-worn scam: Pay the delivery fee and the scammer never sends the promised money.
Then the scammer said if KDKA’s Andy Sheehan can make the payment in the next two hours, the money will be delivered today.READ MORE: As Eviction Moratorium Expires, Many Worried They'll Be Left Without A Roof Over Their Heads
“I’ll see if I can come up with $550. I’ll see if I can borrow from my aunt,” KDKA’s Andy Sheehan texted the scammer.
The scammer then directed KDKA’s Andy Sheehan to buy gift cards and text the serial numbers, but KDKA’s Andy Sheehan told him he needs to speak on the phone.
“So you want me to buy these gift cards,” KDKA’s Andy Sheehan said.
The scammer directed KDKA’s Andy Sheehan to the nearest Walmart or Target, but we’ve already heard enough.
“I am a reporter with CBS here in the United States and you are a scammer and you are trying to rip off people who need money,” KDKA’s Andy Sheehan said on the phone.
The scammer hung up.MORE NEWS: Laurel Highlands Nominated For USA Today's Best Fall Foliage Destination
The Gainey campaign said it is taking steps to report the scammer to the authorities.