The FBI is warning New Jersey residents about an increasing number of pandemic-related scams.

FBI supervisory special agent Mike Doyle said people who have recently lost their jobs are especially being targeted. People are being contacted by email, text messages, on the phone and sometimes even in person about fake job opportunities.

He said fraudsters have started posting fake employment opportunities on online job sites. They will go as far as to conduct video-chat interviews with job seekers.

Doyle said that when these bogus interviews take place, people “are tricked into revealing a significant amount of PII — personal identifying information."

Personal identifying information can be used to conduct identity theft.

Doyle said the way to make sure you’re not getting duped “is to externally corroborate the information" by doing an online search for the supposed firm's telephone number and call to verify the job offer. He said you should not use a telephone number that the scammers give you during the video chat or send you in an email because it may be fake and someone on the other end will pretend they represent the company you’re trying to reach.

He said another COVID-19 scheme where fraudsters try to get personal identifying information involves emails and calls where people are being told “that the federal government is requiring people to get COVID-19 tests. People will be told they have to give their PII and, in fact, that is not true.”

Doyle said you should also disregard any email or text message claims that someone has developed a treatment or cure for the novel coronavirus because no such cure exists.

He said another scam involves trying to get you to send money after you’re told you have been hired for a work-at-home position.

He said the phony employer sends you what you think is a legitimate expense check that may be as high as $5,000, and gives you specs for a laptop that you need to buy that may cost around $2,000.

Doyle said in this scam you’re instructed to purchase the laptop then deposit the check and send the remaining balance back to your supposed new employer.

“When that check (they sent you) is no good, that money is taken out of the job applicant’s bank account," he said.

He said this may sound far-fetched, but when people are desperate to work they can sometimes be duped more easily.

He said the bottom line is never give any PII unless you are absolutely sure the person you are dealing with is on the level.

“Do not provide a username, a password, date of birth, Social Security number, financial or other personal information in response to an email or a robocall," he said.

Doyle is recommending you speak with other members of your family, especially those who tend to be more gullible, and remind them they should not be giving out personal information if someone is asking for it in an email or a call.

Keep reading: Coronavirus scams and fraud

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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