Colorado Springs

SCAMBUSTERS: Phone scam circulating claiming to be from "Health Dept. Institute"

SCAMBUSTERS: Phone scam circulating...

MONUMENT, Colo. - A new phone scam is making the rounds in El Paso County where scammers are calling from overseas claiming to be from the "Health Department Institute." 

How it works: The scammer calls to offer a $15,000 grant, but before getting any of the earnings, they ask to confirm information about you. 

Erin's story

Erin Banahan's life is all on Facebook.

"There's pictures of my kids, my husband," she said.

It didn't dawn on her that people halfway across the world would be using all this information to make her the next victim.

"I got the call and they told me it was the Health Department Institute," said Banahan. "They told me I had won a grant of $14,000."

The scammer then verified Banahan's information over the phone. 

"They had my kids information all my information, my email address, everything, except for my home address," she said.

That's because her home address wasn't public on Facebook. But that didn't stop them from looking up every detail about her - even her daughter who passed away from leukemia last year. 

"It makes me angry actually, more sad that they actually brought my kids into something like this," said Banahan.

Remember every profile, username, email address that you have active on the web is fair game for scammers.

Note: So if you have a Facebook account be sure to update your privacy settings. To do that you click on  the question mark on the top bar, click privacy settings and then click customize settings. You should make sure everything says 'private' or 'just friends.'

Det. Jon Price explains if you don't - you just become an easier target.

"If someone contacts you out of the blue requesting personal identifying information," he said. "That's a good indicator that you're about to be scammed."

So bottom line - these scammers are after this information so they can sell it to other hackers.

Do you have a scam you'd like us to investigate?

Email me at


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