Bluff artists love bad times. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, so has the activities of the scammers.
The first wave of these scams, in February and March, tended to be snake oil sellers selling products they claimed to be effective in treating COVID-19. At the time, the Federal Trade Commission identified the Food and Drug Administration Seven of them, Saying the makers of these products have no evidence to support their claims.
The notable name on that list was Jim Packer, a popular Christian television writer in the 1970s, who was involved in a sex scandal and spent five years in prison for fraud. Since its launch in 2003, it has been hosting a program called The Jim Bakker Show on the PTL satellite network and in February it began promoting a product called Silver Solution, which indicates that it can successfully treat people with the virus.
Federal agencies asked Packer and others listed to stop sales, and the attorneys general of Missouri and Arkansas filed lawsuits. On March 11, Silver Solutions was removed from the online program store.
Fraudsters focus on financial stress
Since then, coronavirus scams have taken a different shape. As the pandemic has forced many companies to close and tens of millions of employees lose their jobs, fraudsters are trying to exploit the economic pain.
In September, the FTC reported that Americans have them He lost $ 145 million Coronavirus-related fraud.
One of the primary targets of fraudulent artists was the $ 1,200 incentive checks approved by Congress in late March. Some scammers have offered their victims promises of faster check delivery if they pay a fee. Others used the “fake check scam”, in which the fraudsters sent in fake checks that appear legitimate for more than $ 1,200. And then the recipients are contacted, informed that an error has occurred, and that they need to return the excess amount in cash or money order.
Phishing attacks, in which fraudsters send e-mail or text messages to try to obtain personal information that could give them access to people’s bank or other accounts, are becoming more sophisticated. Modern Cybersecurity firm Armorblox spotted it by exploiting Internal Revenue Service, Coronavirus and SharePoint in one fell swoop. The recipient was advised that “IRS COVID Relief Funds” are available by clicking on a link that takes them to a SharePoint form requesting a variety of personal information.
Phishing is also taking place via websites pretending to be humanitarian or government organizations that provide vaccines or other aid. Has the Ministry of Justice close Hundreds of these sites.
Additionally, some phishing scammers are pretending to be contact trackers, and they are the people who follow up with anyone who may have been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19. With this trick, these fraudsters are trying to obtain personal information of their targets.
Another new trick is Functional tricks, Which can take various forms. One form is a phishing attempt where you apply for a non-existent job by providing comprehensive personal information.
The other is known as Fooling Recharge She works from home to help scammers unintentionally ship products purchased with stolen credit cards. Not only the promised payments for work are never realized; The fraudster now has a victim’s Social Security number and other personal information.
In addition to people just trying to make ends meet during the pandemic, investors also need to be very careful about pandemic scams. Recently released by the Association of Securities Managers of North America and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority of America Warning For investors about the risk of fraud. “As the world focuses on the Covid-19 pandemic, fraudsters continue to promote alleged miracle cures or alleged innovative technologies that exploit unsuspecting investors,” the warning reads.
Be on guard
As if we need to worry more about these days, everyone needs to be more careful not to fall victim to fraudsters.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a Simple guide To help people avoid coronavirus-related scams:
- Ignore home vaccination offers and test kits.
- Hang up on automated calls.
- Watch out for phishing emails and text messages.
- Research before donating.
You can also follow news of scammers by subscribing to FTC Consumer Alerts.
Meanwhile, if you have been the victim of a fraudster, it is important to inform law enforcement authorities of this. Provides the US Department of Justice’s National Disaster Fraud Center Complaint form Which you can fill out and send. Additionally, most state attorney general offices have consumer protection departments that may also provide reporting forms, such as This one is from Minnesota.