A report from the group, based on government
data, highlighted the vast scope of a fast-growing criminal
cottage industry - from phony stimulus-check offers to shopping
scams and fake cures - preying on Americans already distressed
by the pandemic and its economic fallout.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the study found California, Florida,
New York, Texas and Pennsylvania - the most populous of the 50
U.S. states - to be the five most targeted by coronavirus scams
in the country.
Together they accounted for about a third of more than 150,000
instances of COVID-related fraud reported nationally by the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from mid-March, when the World
Health Organization declared a global pandemic, through July,
the report https://socialcatfish.com/blog/coronavirus-scams-how-covid-19-stimulus-check-scams-shopping-scams-have-evolved-since-march-2020
Those cases have cost victims a total of $97.5 million to date,
according to the FTC.
Even relatively small states saw huge spikes in COVID-related
fraud in recent months, led by Maine, whose monthly complaints
of coronavirus scams and identity theft quadrupled between March
and July, the study said.
The report was published by the internet-based nonprofit group
SocialCatfish.com, which helps consumers avoid being defrauded
online by determining the true identity of individuals or
organizations hiding behind a phony persona.
Scams taking advantage of Americans' desperation in the midst of
a deadly pandemic and accompanying economic upheaval "are
running rampant," said Richard Neil, a spokesman for the
Several newly flourishing forms of fraud involve fake promises
of government stimulus checks, often perpetuated through "robocalls,"
texts, or emails seeking personal and financial information the
caller supposedly needs to deposit benefits into the victim's
account, according to the report.
Price-gouging and other consumer product scams have also become
widespread, the study warned.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Richard
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