TULSA, Okla. — As the eviction moratorium part of federal COVID-19 relief is scheduled to end this month, scammers are pouncing.
Some renters hit hard financially by the pandemic are scared. They're frantically searching for the money to pay their current rent or even months of back rent before the federal eviction moratorium ends in a couple of weeks.
That fear is making some renters prime targets for scammers. One scam begins like so many others: a phone call. That call promises to help renters stay in their homes by getting them hundreds, even thousands of dollars from the federal government.
Tara, a Tulsa mom with 4 children, answered one of those calls.
"I got a call from a guy who told me he could get me the hundreds of dollars I need to catch up on my rent, just in time before the federal program ends. Instead, a lost the few hundred dollars I had left," she said.
The caller told her she had to hurry before they were evicted and telling her the money from the federal government was running out quickly. The scammer needed Tara's bank account and the money would be deposited in a couple of days.
Feeling the urgency, she gave them the information. Instead of getting money in her account, Tara saw her last $400 dollars withdrawn.
Crushed, Tara said "Now we might be kicked out of our home, and I don't even have enough money to feed my kids."
She knows those last dollars from her account are gone for good, but she still wants to warn others in the same situation.
No matter how scared you are:
- Don't fall for a scammer's trick
- Don't answer strange calls
- Don't give out your personal or financial information, especially to anyone who calls, texts, or emails you out of the blue
Legitimate federal help for renters is still available and 2 News pointed Tara toward that assistance.
In Northeastern Oklahoma, Restore Hope Ministries is assisting with millions of federal dollars. So far, Restore Hope provided $3.6 million in rental assistance during the last two months. It still has $16 million available to help more strapped renters.
Restore Hope can provide assistance in 20 Northeast Oklahoma counties, essentially all those in the 918 area code north of I-40.
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