Coronavirus COVID-19-themed cyber frauds and scams continue to cause headaches to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States of America. The Government agency that looks after civil antitrust laws and consumer protection has reported a loss of more than $13 million, courtesy of the growing number of COVID-19 online scams.
FTC receives over 18,000 fraud complaints
According to official figures, the FTC received more than 18,000 complaints regarding COVID-19 related scams between January 1 and April 15, 2020. Most of these complaints were about fraudulent activities, resulting in a combined loss of more than $13 million, with a reported median loss of $557.
Most Americans reported some kind of fraud. The FTC received more than 10,000 reports of fraud while more than 46 percent of fraud complaints reported a loss. However, the fraud category as a whole doesn’t provide us with any specifics.
Moving on, most Americans reported frauds related to cancellations and refunds for travel and vacation-related products or services, resulting in nearly $5 million in losses.
Following travel and vacation, the FTC received a significant number of complaints regarding fraud related to online shopping. Authorities received 1,876 complaints related to online shopping and e-commerce frauds, resulting in nearly $1.5 million in losses.
Although there were significantly fewer complaints related to con artists impersonating legitimate businesses were less, they resulted in nearly $1.2 million in losses.
In one of its recent blog posts, the FTC wrote:
“Scammers are experts at shifting tactics and changing their messages to catch you off guard. This is especially true as they take advantage of anxieties related to the Coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, the FTC has issued some basic guidelines, as follows:
- Refrain from responding to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government.
- Do not entertain online offers for vaccinations and home test kit.
- Do not answer robocalls.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO.
- Do not fall for charity fraud.
Coronavirus COVID-19 scams are on the rise with attackers trying to use the situation to their advantage and cause damage. Recently, we saw a report that the Food retail industry most-impacted by coronavirus scams.
In most cases, attackers continue to play on people’s fear of coronavirus infection, aiming to promote their malicious intentions. Over the last several days, we have seen cases where attackers were trying to trick users into installing malware using phishing campaigns.