Oconee County Sheriff’s Office warns of coronavirus college grant scam

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SENECA, S.C. (WSPA)- The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office reported several new new scams in September, including one falsely promising a “Coronavirus college grant.”

“It was awful,” said Avery Baynard, who fell victim to the scam. “I was so scared I had to tell my parents.”

A few weeks ago, Baynard came across an ad on a friend’s instagram account that claimed to offer coronavirus college grants.

“So I messaged him…’oh, it’s these grants. They give you a couple back, like $1,000 , $2,000, however much you qualify for,'” Baynard said.

Baynard thought he was messaging his friend on the app, but really, it was a scammer on the other end. His friend had been hacked. They moved the conversation to text message, and Baynard sent them the user name and password to his savings account. He had been promised a $9,000 college grant.

“He got my stuff, and then he took money out my bank,” Baynard said.

According to the incident report, $800 was drained from Baynard’s savings.

“I had $800 took out, transferred, and $750 was pending to come out…my whole entire savings account,” Baynard said.

He told 7News that was his life’s savings: all the money he had saved for college.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Jimmy Watt said this is a variation of coronavirus scams that have been circulating.

“A lot of times we hear about scams affecting our seniors and that certainly is true, but scams can affect anybody,” Watt said.

Others in Oconee County have also fallen victim this month to other scams.

“Sometimes when you get scared you do not make rational decisions, you make decisions in a panic without thinking…and that’s kind of like what they want you to do,” Watt said.

Watt said if it seems like someone’s trying to scare you into paying up or if you’re offered a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s a lesson Baynard learned the hard way.

“Even if y’all see anything…money isn’t free, so don’t fall for it,” he said.

Baynard said that the bank was able to get his money back just recently.

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