Scammers have used devious methods such as selling at-home COVID-19 vaccinations to capitalize from the pandemic in a colossal way.
And those sneaky moves have been very costly. Americans reported over 500,000 cases of COVID-19 fraud, with losses totaling more than $480 million as of July 14, 2021, a new report from The Ascent shows.
Citing statistics from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the report uncovers how scammers have exploited and profited from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020. The analysis further reveals how some states have much higher fraud rates and losses than others.
Other top findings from the report include:
- While consumers ages 30 to 39 reported the most fraud cases, people 60 to 69 lost the most money.
- Credit cards are the most common payment method for COVID-19 fraud victims who lose money, but far more money is lost via bank transfers and money wires.
- California has the most COVID-19 fraud losses, totaling over $65 million.
- Identity theft for COVID-19 has been more prevalent in certain states, including Kansas, Hawaii, Montana, and Arkansas.
The Ascent reported COVID-19 fraud is any type of scam, fraud, or identity theft related to the novel coronavirus. The Ascent reviewed financial products including loans, credit cards, and savings accounts.
Among the various tactics scammers used during the crisis: vaccination surveys promising a free reward if you provide your payment information for a small shipping and handling fee; offers for phony at-home COVID-19 testing kits, robocalls offering scam services, like inexpensive health insurance or work-from-home jobs; and selling personal protective equipment with delivery dates the seller knows they cannot meet.
The Ascent’s latest report comes after BLACK ENTERPRISE disclosed African Americans as a demographic group face a greater risk of being fraud victims than the nation’s overall population.
Yet there are actions that can be applied to help individuals–including Black Americans–not fall prey to fraud and scammers. One, is if you get any robocalls–calls that start with pre-recorded messages–hang up. Criminals use such calls to get your information and potentially steal your money.
Another is avoid sending money unless you are sure you are dealing with a reputable business. Don’t wire money–this type of transaction is typically impossible to reverse after the money is picked up, making it a favorite for scammers.