From fake coronavirus vaccines to scammers targeting stimulus checks and small businesses seeking financial assistance, fraud involving COVID-19 fears is rampant.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported from January to April 15 it has received more than 18,000 complaints regarding coronavirus-related scams with about $9 million in losses.
The complaints include sellers claiming to have COVID-19 prevention products with 17 companies receiving warning letters in the last two months from the FTC and Food and Drug Administration for selling unapproved and misbranded products.
Scammers also have targeted the federally-approved stimulus checks that started going out to citizens this month. Criminals are attempting to gather people’s personal and financial information to commit ID theft.
Small business owners also are falling victim to scammers as they try to apply for federal grants and loans. Criminals are using phishing email scams and other fraud, including claiming to be from the U.S. Small Business Administration, to gain confidential business and financial information.
The FTC also is reporting scams such as people offering to buy groceries or other supplies for older adults and then taking off with their money without delivering any items.
The FTC is asking for help to stop scammers. If you become aware or fall victim to a scam, you can report it online to the FTC.