By mid-summer, Americans had lost an estimated $145 Million to Coronavirus Fraud and more than 200,000 complaints of scams and fraud had been filed according to the Federal Trade Commission.
These scams are typically:
- Fake products e.g. torches that supposedly shine light to destroy all viruses and bacteria but are just blue light which has no effect or PPE that is such poor quality as to be useless
- Fake services e.g. people turning up at your door offering to sanitise your driveway for a high price
- Fake tests i.e. fake versions of the real Coronavirus tests used by health professionals, but these ones do not work.
- Fake claims for government help e.g. the companies that offered to make hospital ventilators and took payment for them but had no clue how to make them
- Fake offers to businesses of loans to help them over Covid-19 restrictions
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, government and the authorities have been working hard to offer stimulus packages, business support grants and loans, plus various job retention schemes and direct help for the public.
Unfortunately, the speed of response has left loopholes which scammers are quick to exploit and they also seek to benefit from fear of the virus by offering products that don’t work and pointless services supposedly to protect people. The authorities have confiscated and prosecuted numerous criminals for trying to sell unauthorised Coronavirus tests and fake cures.
Some of the frauds are simple phishing exercises – intended to get your personal information that can be sold to identity thieves. The scammers simply use Coronavirus therapies or cures as bait for the scam.
The general advice from the authorities is to beware cold callers, spam emails and anyone offering anything to do with Coronavirus that is not certified.
If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.