By Kimberly Davis

MEDFORD, N.J. (CBS) — Times are tough right now. Many are out of work due to the pandemic, and funds for unemployment are vital to keep the lights on and food on the table.

A South Jersey woman is sharing her story about her mother getting scammed. She’s doing so in hopes of preventing others from becoming a victim.

Criminals aren’t taking any days off, not even during a pandemic.

Now they’re targeting your unemployment funds and they’re hoping to steal your cash through trust.

“Apparently she’s been communicating with this person since April. That’s quite some time. I can’t believe I didn’t realize it actually,” Melanie Green said.

Green says her 64-year-old mother became the victim of what authorities believe is a Nigerian crime ring siphoning millions of dollars from U.S. unemployment programs due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Green says her mother built a months-long relationship with someone through Facebook.

“This fake profile person was apparently a military man, stationed in Afghanistan,” she said.

In order for him to speak with her internationally, he convinced her to send him her personal information.

“Her social security card and driver’s license to get her an international telephone that he was going to send her a prepaid international cellphone, that they could talk on the phone,” Green said.

It wasn’t until weeks later that the Medford resident learned that she had become the victim of unemployment fraud.

The criminal took her personal information to request an unemployment card but luckily was denied since she’s disabled on social security.

“It’s scary, I mean what if her taxes come now and somebody’s collecting money and now she’s going to owe taxes on unemployment that she never even received,” Green said.

The family filed a police report for identity theft.

Green is sharing their story in hopes of you not becoming the next victim.

Never share any personal information with someone you don’t know online, and if you are sending information, make sure it is through a secure and credible site.

An easy way to tell is if there’s a lock on the upper left hand of the URL bar.

MORE ON CBSPHILLY.COM

COVID Vaccine: Intense Planning Underway In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware About Who Gets First Doses

‘Rep. Matt Putz’: Gov. Murphy Rips Congressman Gaetz, New York Young Republican Club For Holding Gala In Jersey City

‘No Room At The Inn’ As Delaware County Hospitals Battle Rising COVID Cases, Staff Shortages

Kimberly Davis