American Shoppers Have Misplaced $145 Million to Coronavirus Fraud

American Consumers Have Lost $145 Million to Coronavirus Fraud

The number of fraud reports has decreased since the spring, the data shows.

Fraudulent activity often increases following disease outbreaks and natural disasters such as forest fires and hurricanes. Suspicious fraud or fraudulent activity can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud.

Charity Navigator and GuideStar, which rate nonprofits based on their effectiveness and financial situation, can also help consumers assess whether a fundraising request is legitimate.

Many scammers posed as a source of relief from coronavirus stimuli, or even marketed a cure or preventive treatment for Covid-19. They were smart, experts said, and sent robocalls, text messages, and emails to consumers.

“Scammers will always go for your last dollar no matter what,” Ms. Baker said.

During a pandemic or natural disaster, consumers will enter "flight or combat mode," said Stacey Wood, a psychology professor at Scripps College, California who studies consumer fraud. Increased stress can lead people to make more impulsive decisions instead of thinking about whether to avoid clicking a link in a phishing email.

As a disaster continues, scammers will employ new tactics and approaches, said Professor Wood.

The coronavirus has taken fraudulent behavior to levels she had never seen before. The length of the pandemic and everything that comes with it – financial worries, loneliness and isolation, even depression – have created mental health vulnerabilities that may not be as prevalent even after disasters like hurricanes or forest fires, she said.

"Disruptions and fast-moving events create good conditions for engaging consumers," said Professor Wood.

To avoid fraud, AARP has recommended consumers avoid websites that promise vaccines or cures related to coronavirus. You should also beware of emails, phone calls, or social media posts promoting coronavirus testing or claiming to raise money for victims or investigation, as well as those asking them to share personal information.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here