Starting from January 2020 to October 2021 over 269,000 Americans have made fraudulent complaints directly linked to Covid-19 scams. Data reports over $598 million dollars lost due to scams centered around Covid. On average the typical individual victim lost $392. Losses of the elderly alone have totaled to over $1,000 per person from this type of fraud. These scams are slowly tapering off, however there are still thousands of Americans left vulnerable to be victims of fraud.
The main scams that remain today and the most effective kind, come from targeted ads with links to online shopping. Some of these fraudsters can get away with running the same routine over and over before officials are notified and can shut down their operation or websites. The largest number for a reported fraud claim so far totaled about 57,000 complaints in 2020.
So How Do They Work?
There has been a massive increase in the amount of online shopping due to store closings and Covid spreading around the world. Subsequently, many fell victim to opportunistic websites that claim to sell in-demand items. Fraudulent ads can be placed for popular or trending items with little effort. This then results in buyers ordering items and never receiving anything in return. Most of the time when a claim is traced back though, the store is illegitimate and there is no source to refund the spent money.
Other Covid Issues
Price gouging also became heavily precedent with it being the most commonly reported covid related issue. Companies began to inflate prices of items like hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves early on in the pandemic and we started to see panic buying and hoarding as well. Poor logistics for overseas shipping has impacted almost everyone’s inventory and it continues to run unusually low and unpredictably. Local and state agencies also saw an influx of complaints in many categories such as travel, music, and ticketed activities fraud.
What to Look Out For
The impact of the pandemic has strained more than immunity and health, it has also been a time of financial vulnerability for many. It is essential to protect your finances and be hyper-vigilant while shopping online and finding covid related resources. Be sure to verify any websites or links you follow when making a purchase. Always assure that the company or affiliate is verified and has all legal documentation to keep you and your money safe. A good rule of thumb is to remember if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for reviews from others and check the URL and website address for any strange wording near other sites or brands. You can also use Google’s transparency report here to check if a website is legit to safeguard your funds. Online shopping has become vital in many homes to keep us or loved ones safe from Covid and being attentive with your finances protects your wallet as well.