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Susan Tompor: Roku setup, activation scam doesn't include cold calls, bogus links: What to know

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

All she wanted to do was replace her old Roku device to stream movies and TV shows onto her new TV during the pandemic. If things worked out, she even hoped to use the set-up to teach remote classes at a local community college.

Instead, Maureen McDonald ended up dishing out $189.99 to scam operators.

The Roku scam is as nasty as they come and one that many consumers, including me, never heard about or paid much attention to in the past. Yet as streaming services grew in popularity during the pandemic, scammers upped their game.

Nobody called or texted McDonald out of the blue to threaten or sell anything.

We know better than to be scared by those who claim that they're from the Internal Revenue Service or demand gift cards now to help a friend or grandchild in trouble.

We know to hang up when someone says we need to call Amazon customer support, for example, about a $350 phone that we never ordered.


Roku + streaming devices are among the most popular selling items this holiday season.

Instead, McDonald was trying to set up her new Roku device and all of a sudden a message flashed on the television screen to tell her to call this 800 number for help activating the device.

"For help, call this number — and that's what I called," said the Southfield resident. "It looked normal; it did."

"I call up and then there's this guy David."


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