Keep Your Eyes Peeled
for COVID-19 Fraud
This most recent health crisis provides an ideal opportunity for fraudsters and scammers to take advantage of vunerable people. The United States Department of Justice outlines some financial schemes that have already impacted consumers.
Here is a partial list of known scams:
Treatment scams — Scammers offer to sell fake cures, vaccines and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.
Supply scams — Scammers create fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks. When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the money and never provide the promised supplies.
Provider scams — Scammers contact people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.
Charity scams — Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups and areas affected by COVID-19.
Phishing scams — Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), send phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.
App scams — Scammers create and manipulate mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
Investment scams — Scammers offer online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific “target price,” and relate to microcap stocks or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of companies with limited publicly available information.