Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Remember when they said they were going to reopen the economy but instead tried extended our lockdown another two months? After providing us with all the weapons we need to defeat our invisible enemy they decided its best we just stay home. Now all we can do is watch, from home, as a global pandemic runs rampant. With all our attention on stopping the spread fraud has been going almost completely unnoticed.
Internet schemes and scams have been around almost as long as the internet. However this pandemic has not. Making this the perfect opportunity for them to target you and everyone you know. Don't let yourself fall victim to coronavirus scams. The FTC, FCC, WHO and probably every other government agency have issued warnings about how criminals are targeting people.
The Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker is great resource for up to date reporting on exactly what scammers are up to. Based on their reports, here's 5 coronavirus scams everyone should know about:
With loneliness and depression on the rise as a result of social distancing, many people have turned to pet adoption. More specifically, dogs. Because all the shelters are closed or by appointment only, the only place to look is the internet. Scammers are aware of this and are using it to their advantage.
The scam begins when the victim responds to a seemingly genuine ad about a puppy available for adoption. The scammer agrees to ship the pup but only after an upfront payment is received. What the payment is for varies. Some victims were told the payment was for the shipping fees, while others were told it was for covid-19 vaccinations (which don't exist) and climate controlled crates. Victims who asked to meet with or pick-up the pup were denied by scammers because of "covid-19 restrictions".
According to Scam Tracker, this scam has been presented a variety ways. The victim is targeted through text message, phone call or social media and directed to an external link that appears to be an official website. They are then prompted to enter their personal information and banking details in order to verify their identity and begin processing their check.
One variation of this scam, targeted at senior citizens, starts when the victim follows a link on a social media post about a grant designed to help pay medical bills. The link then directs victims to a fake government agency website: "The U.S. Emergency Grants Federation". Seniors are then told to enter their social security information to determine their eligibility. Similar posts have been reported promising to get victims additional money immediately if a small processing fee is paid.
Anyone who has tuned into the news in the last couple months has seen the alarming numbers of coronavirus cases. At face value these numbers seem extremely high and would scare anyone into falling for a mystery cure scam. Which is precisely what scammers hoped for.
Numerous complaints have been reported about scammers offering fake cures and undisclosed Intel. Victims are targeted through emails offering products that can prevent them from getting coronavirus or cure them completely. Scammers also claim these products are being kept secret by the government which is why they're not available everywhere.
Nothing brings the good out of people like a global pandemic. Sure there are those who only seem to be concerned about themselves and have little to no regard for others. But most people genuinely want to help. Unfortunately, empathy is one of the first things scammers will exploit.
Crowdsourcing is an effective way to raise money for a cause and has become increasingly popular on social media. Beware of social media posts asking for contributions to help those affected coronavirus. If you want to contribute, sites like the BBB Wise Giving Alliance provide in-depth reviews of top charities that are available to anyone looking to give back.
Whether you're looking for a job or looking for employees, the internet is where to go. Job sites like indeed and snagajob make it easy to find work, which is great. But they also make it easy for scammers to target victims. Job seekers are one of scammer's favorite targets. Those looking to work from home, those with household income of less than $50,000 and those who are in debt are at highest risk of being targeted for this scam.
Determining which jobs are legit and which are scams isn't always as easy as you'd think. Especially with all the companies adjusting to the mandatory stay at home orders. Work from home positions have quickly become the new norm. But if it seems to good to be true... It probably is.
This is definitely not all of the coronavirus scams. If you're interested in learning more or want to report a possible scam head over to the Better Business Bureau's website or simply click on the links below.
BBB.org/Coronavirus - provides covid-19 consumer tips
BBB.org/Covid - provides business tips
BBB.org/ScamTracker - report scams and see what other victims are saying
You can also file complaints with the FCC at: fcc.gov/complaints
Report IRS related fraud concerns by contacting the Treasury Inspector General for the Tax Administration at 1(800) 366-4484
If you're interested in finding out more information on the coronavirus scams check out the links below: