CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) -Bruce Larson founded Making a Home five years ago. His son Brad recently joined the Summerville-based company that offers renovation and repair services.
In November, the father-son pair received a threatening message to their website from an apparent scammer. The messenger demanded payment in the form of Bitcoin to avoid retribution.
“It was disconcerting when you have someone using that kind of harsh language immediately attacking you when you thought it was going to be someone asking for business,” said Brad Larson.
The messenger threatened to take the company and the Larsons down by posting poor reviews and impersonating the Larson’s on the web.
“It immediately broke into threats against our business saying that they would pose as us and go on to the internet and contact local authorities and social groups like Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ groups and pose like us and send them threats on our behalf,” he said.
Larson said the email specifically listed Making a Home, included the email link and their social media accounts, and asked for Bitcoin.
Aliza Vigderman is the content manger for Security.org. The journalist said scams like this are on the rise.
“At its peak in May, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 1,500 reports [that day] and pre-COVID-19, [there were] about three reports a day, so we have seen huge increases,” she said.
She believes there are multiple factors amid the pandemic that are contributing to the trend.
“People are online more and people are stressed out so they are more likely to fall for these things,” she said. “A lot of the scams have to do with money. They are exploiting emotional and financial vulnerability,” she continued.
If you believed you have been targeted by a scam you are encouraged to report it to the FTC.