How to Avoid Being Scammed during the Pandemic

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Playing Homeowner Is Being Scammed by Serial Grifter

The coronavirus pandemic has shed light on many people's best qualities, but unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis has brought out the worst in others -- including scam artists.

Watch: Meet Two People Scammed by the Same Woman

The Doctors welcome Heidi, who says her life was ruined by an alleged serial scam artist Kate, who rented a room from her. Heidi tells us the renter has only paid rent for 1 out of the 12 months she has been living with her and refused to leave the home. The homeowner claims the renter has 3 felonies and two arrest warrants. We are also joined by Matt, who was also allegedly scammed by Kate when he sublet her a room. He claims she did not pay rent and stayed in the home past his lease agreement, something he says cost him over 20,000 dollars. Kate and her attorney did not respond to The Doctors' request for comment.

To help others avoid scams like the one Heidi and Matt allegedly experienced, we are joined by body language expert Janine Driver to share her advice and tips. She says the pandemic has created a wealth of opportunities for scam artists and warns viewers about being contacted about the following, which The Federal Trade Commission also cautions about:

  • Being contacted about getting a COVID-19 test, virus protection products, or a vaccine
  • Text messages, phone calls, or emails regarding the virus that prey on people's fears - the FTC notes a contact tracer will never ask for money for personal financial information
  • Robocalls about health insurance or work-from-home opportunities
  • Emails or calls from places claiming to be the CDC or the World Health Organization
  • Unfamiliar people or organizations reaching out regarding donations, the FTC says to never donate with cash, gift cards, or by wiring money

Janine tells Dr. Ian Smith says when stress is high, our defenses lower and we tend to second-guess our gut feelings. She says if you believe you have been scammed, to immediately alert the authorities.

Watch: How to Avoid Being a Victim of the Scamdemic

When it comes to detecting a liar or a scam artist, Janine says the red flags usually appear in the first few seconds of interacting with someone and says body language indicators like a smirk or a shoulder shrug could be a sign of someone not being honest. The body language expert also says if you ask a question and the reply is another question or an attempt to make you feel guilty for your inquiry, these could also be serious red flags. She also says "flattery with an embedded command" is a sign of a possible scam. For instance, a potential renter telling you, "You are so smart to rent this room to me," could be a sign of a scam artist at work. 

If you encounter any of these, "You should run for the hills," Janine says. Get even more tips from the body language expert that may help you avoid being scammed in her book, "You Can't Lie to Me: The Revolutionary Program to Supercharge Your Inner Lie Detector and Get to the Truth."

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