Tough times are the best time for scammers. And fraudsters have not wasted a minute before using the coronavirus pandemic to bilk Americans out of millions of dollars.
Since the virus made its unwelcome appearance on U.S. shores, Americans have lost more than $148 million due to fraud related to the pandemic as of Sept. 28, according to data from the Federal Trade Commission.
In total, citizens have filed more than 210,000 complaints related to such scams, the FTC says.
CNBC reports that seniors have been especially vulnerable, with those who are 80 and older losing more than double the amount of money compared to younger fraud victims. As of late September, those who were at least 80 had lost an average of $655 to such fraud.
So, how are these fraudsters collecting their cash? According to CNBC:
“Scammers have used multiple avenues to steal money from unsuspecting Americans, including crimes around financial relief like stimulus checks and unemployment benefits, fake treatments for Covid-19 and fraudulent charities.”
The good news is that the number of scams appears to be falling. After peaking at around 1,000 a day in April and May, the number of consumer fraud reports had fallen to fewer than 200 a day by late September.
Staying safe from scams
The pandemic has given scammers a green light to cast their evils spells. But in truth, fraudsters never rest. That means you always must be on guard to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
As we noted above, seniors have suffered more from pandemic-related scams than any other group. That’s no surprise, as seniors are always a prime target for fraudsters. To avoid falling into this trap, read “10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed.”
At the other end of the age spectrum, college students often find themselves in the crosshairs of fraudsters. For more on staying safe during your early adult years, check out “9 Scams That Prey on College Students.”