COVID-19 Scam Information

Global Impact

COVID-19 and the scams associated to it are unique in nature due to the fact that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. In past national disasters, scams related to these disasters affected people who were local to the disaster. The fact that everyone on the planet is affected in some way by this pandemic expands the scope of the target area for everyone and anyone to become victims of scams. Being aware and knowledgeable about how scams are presenting during this time will be key to keeping yourself safe.

Anxious and Vulnerable

Scammers feed on emotions of people during hard times to prey on them in order to make a profit. Scammers are very aware of how vulnerable and anxious this Pandemic has made people and will use it against them. It’s important to try to manage your emotions and think clearly when you browse the internet, receive an email or text from someone you don’t know, or click to read or share an article. There is power in just realizing that these strong emotions can cause error in judgment.

COVID-19 related Scams

The uniqueness of this Pandemic affects the uniqueness of the scams that are employed, however, scammers are often using traditional schemes that have just been repurposed to appeal to the current trends. This is a list of some of the scams that are related to the COVID 19 Pandemic:

  1. Work at Home: With a lot of people losing their jobs or on furlough, the idea of bringing in an income is highly appealing and scammers realize this. Be sure to vet any work at home offers you come across. A valid job opportunity does not require you to send them money first. 
  2. Fake Medical Treatment: There are numerous scams that are leading people to believe that there are medications, potions, lotions, etc. that can cure or prevent COVID-19. At this point there is nothing on the market to prevent or cure the disease. There is a way to ensure that an online pharmacy is legitimate. Visit The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) for more information.
  3. Charity and Fundraiser: Everyone is sensitive to the impact that this Pandemic is having on our economy. It’s always good to help others when we can just be sure you’re giving to reputable and preferably local entities to avoid scammers who want to take advantage of your kindness. You should never feel rushed or pressured to give even during this economic trial.
  4. Undelivered Goods: Now that people are spending a lot more time online rather than shopping in the stores, people are being scammed by fake online shopping experiences. Be sure that you are making purchases from real vendors. There is a lot of click bait on social media and other online websites that can lead to fake websites that claim to sell hand sanitizer, PPEs, masks, etc. and take your payment without delivering the items.

Click the image to see information from the FTC

COVID scams

Be alert, aware, cautious and self-confident against scammers

  • Con artists are usually well dressed, intelligent, talkative and flattering. They don’t usually present themselves as scary or threatening which is how they can get away with their deceptive plans.
  • Look for security indicators on sites you visit, for example: https (the "s" stands for secure)
  • Not everyone is who they appear to be online. Anyone can disguise themselves and impersonate other people, keep this in mind.
  • Scammers tend to use words like, "more," "better," or "faster" to draw you in, don’t fall for something that seems too good to be true.
  • Watch for odd payment options like bitcoin or gift cards. Most reputable places will likely be able to accept multiple payment types and payment types that are more "normal."
  • Watch for misspelling in ads and articles 
  • If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam!