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COVID-19 scam reports, by the numbers

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If you’re a regular reader of this blog — or of the news, you know that scammers are out in force, taking advantage of all aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic. We’ve spotted plenty of bogus cures and treatments, but many of you have told the FTC about straight-up scams, like texts/emails/calls from a “government agency” promising to get your relief money for you. Others have told us about things that could be scams (or could be businesses catching up with the new reality) — like websites that promise scarce cleaning products or masks (that never arrive), or problems related to getting money back for cancelled travel plans.

Every weekday, the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s data analysts pull all those reports together to give you a glimpse into what the data is telling us. And, every weekday, you can find that report at ftc.gov/exploredata. But let me hit a few high points for you here.

  • From January 1 until today, the FTC has gotten 18,235 reports related to COVID-19, and people reported losing $13.44 million dollars to fraud.
  • The top complaint categories relate to travel and vacations, online shopping, bogus text messages, and all kinds of imposters.
  • While reports of robocalls are way down overall, we’re now hearing about callers invoking the COVID-19 pandemic to pretend to be from the government, or making illegal medical or health care pitches, among other topics.
  • The big states have, not unexpectedly, the biggest number of reports. You can check out how many people are reporting what in your state.

If you’re getting calls, emails, or texts, or you’re seeing ads or offers online, keep a few things in mind: First, the government will never call out of the blue to ask for money or your personal information (like Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers). And second, anyone who tells you to pay by Western Union or Money Gram, or by putting money on a gift card, is a scammer. The government and legit businesses will never tell you to pay that way.

You can check out ftc.gov/exploredatato know what others in the world are seeing. To keep up with the latest scams, and what the FTC is doing, sign up to get Consumer Alerts. And please keep reporting what you’re seeing at ftc.gov/complaint.

Tagged with: cures, data, fraud, scam

Comments

I have had an email pretending to be from sky telling me I am behind with my payments and they are from a collection agency asking for money but I know I am up to date I replied I would contact sky

Of all things I received an email stating they, Mr Ebenezer, Transfer Dept, Zenith Bank Plc, couldn't complete a transfer of $5,000,000.00. They called it five hundred thousand dollars. Hahahaha obvious scam. I sent it to spam file.
I tried to check the email address to determine place of origin but wasn't able to.
Thank you for you continuous efforts!

Yes, robo calls and scam calls are almost gone. I keep getting one for car warrantees, but the email spams have increased tremendously. We just can't catch a break. If it isn't one thing, it is another. It seems like it will never end.

Awesome job, guys! Keep up the good work!

Are the travel and vacation reports stemming from consumers who believe they should have been reimbursed for prior travel arrangements they had to cancel due to the pandemic; or are these new scams happening in response to the virus pandemic?

Thank you for keeping us informed. I'm posting your links on my FaceBook page, trying to get people to sign up for alerts and to check the alerts you've been sending me. Bless you all. Keep up the great job you are doing.

Scam alert from #19513165635 got a text
Care about your family? Purchase your own Corona test kit HERE! The demand is extremely high, so hurry up! healthme123.com

I received a text message from 279-201-9990. This is what the text message says:
The State of California and the U.S. Civilian Corp (501c3 nonprofit) have identified you as a medical professional who could make a difference in addressing the Covid-19 health crisis. Volunteer and paid positions are available (including out-of-state and expired licenses). Can you help?
-If you are able to help in person in CA, reply with 1.
-If you are not in CA but able to help in your community, reply with 2.
-If willing to help but only able to serve remotely (telemedicine), reply with 3.
-If you are already involved or not able to participate at this time, reply with 9.
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I didn't reply to the text. I also could not find any information online about phone # 279-201-9990 except that over 95 people have searched this # in the last 2 weeks on WhitePages.com.
FYI, I have an Illinois cellphone number, I lived in Illinois my entire life before retiring and moving to a nearby state; I have always worked in an office; and I have never worked for or been a medical professional in any way shape or form.

Hacker somehow got into our email from the website and sent emails to our clients to change payments to ACH transfers. Luckily one of our clients called me the very next day to let us know.They were emailing us but the hacker was confiscating the emails. We had to change the email password 5 times. Site is not secure. Internet provider was notified 3 times.

I have received a possible scam from Instagram Financial Domestic Assistance. That says I have 70,000 dollars waiting to be sent to my doorstep via FedEx, as long as I send $300 via Cashapp to pay for shipping.

I received a call from someone who was said to be from DirecTV Customer Loyalty Dept. stating that my monthly bill was going to be reduced because of COVID-19. I was told that by bill would be reduced from $106 per month to $49.99 per month for 24 months and I would receive free HBO, Cinemax, Stars etc free also. To qualify, I was to purchase an eBay gift card loaded with $250. I was then instructed to call 855-472-9007 ext 1 and give them a promo code which was given to me at the time I was called and pay the $250 (which would be applied to my first 5 mths bill). I called DirecTV and they told me there was no such discounts being offered. It sounded completely legit until they told me to load $250 on an eBay gift card and submit to them.

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