In late December 2020, former President Donald Trump signed the $900 billion pandemic relief package, which provided $600 stimulus checks to those who are making less than $75,000… Read More
After a few months of dealing with the coronavirus, restrictions are starting to loosen up across the United States even though cases are still on the rise. Lysol products have been added to the list as the only EPA approved cleaner to rid the virus and governors are threatening to tighten up restrictions again across the states. Because of this, people have been stocking their shelves with essential needs, desperate to make sure they have enough food and cleaning products to last them a few more months.
There have also been rumors of a second stimulus check making its rounds, but not yet confirmed by the federal government. Scammers have been keeping up with the latest news regarding shopping patterns and stimulus checks and have based their latest scams around these trends, desperate to get their hands on innocent people’s life savings, which has caused a rise in coronavirus scam cases since March of 2020 as scammers come up with new stimulus check and shopping scams to fool their victims.
According to past FTC data and present FTC data, it shows that most data in each state has gone up since the coronavirus started appearing in the United States during the month of March. For example, within the previous top 5 states, California had 5,211 coronavirus scam complaints in March, but right now has 10,938 people who were affected by coronavirus scams. Florida had 3,240 coronavirus scam complaints but now has 7,244 complaints. Texas had 2,892 complaints but now has 6,427 complaints. New York had 2,859 complaints but now has 6,677 complaints. Lastly, Massachusetts had 1,718 cases but now has 3,147 coronavirus scam complaints.
Out of the 5 states with the least complaints previously, Vermont had 66 coronavirus scam complaints but now has 146 cases. Wyoming had 52 complaints but now has 105 complaints. Alaska had 48 complaints but now has 115 complaints. South Dakota had 48 complaints but now has 103 complaints. Lastly, North Dakota had 34 complaints but now has 96 complaints.
Back in March of 2020, scams were just starting to surface as the coronavirus was slowly spreading around the United States. However, since it’s been a few months, scammers have been able to get more creative and believable with their scams making more people fall for them across the United States. As more coronavirus cases appear all over the country, so do coronavirus scams and complaints of people who were desperate to get what they needed to prevent obtaining the virus as more shops and online stores sell out of essential goods.
Scammers realize the desperation of most Americans and pretend to reach out a hand to people with supplies they don’t really have, such as stimulus money or essential grocery items. They then steal people’s money without giving them what they promised. This is why stimulus check scams and coronavirus shopping scams have spread across the United States.
The price-gouging scam is when a retailer marks the original price of an essential good item up by a lot, knowing that there is limited stock on the item and people are desperate to obtain this item so they will buy it anyway. For example, someone in San Diego, CA reported that toilet paper was selling for $15 at her local drugstore.
The law varies state by state on what defines price gouging, so for the purpose of this article, we will go by the California Penal Code. This code states that there has to be a declared emergency and prices have to jump up 10% to be defined as price gouging.
The District Attorney of San Diego stated that they determine the level of crime by comparing the price of the item before the coronavirus versus what the price is now. They then let the business know that they are price gouging which is illegal, and most businesses usually comply. Some store owners claim that the price came from the manufacturer or distributor itself.
The Department of Justice is on the lookout for people who have mass quantities of essential supplies either beyond the limit of normal use, or those looking to make a profit off of it. Amazon has had to remove half a million items for sale on its website due to price gouging and has suspended 6,000 accounts.
The undelivered goods scam is when scammers sell essential goods online and allow people to purchase them. The buyer then puts in their financial information and purchases the product, but yet doesn’t receive the said product. The scammer then takes the money that was used to purchase the product and doesn’t send anything in return, stealing the purchaser’s funds.
Shipping Time-Limit: Because of this scam, sellers are obliged by law to either give you an estimated shipping date or to ship your products out to you within 30 days. There is an exception for customers who opened a credit card account in order to purchase a product, which gives sellers a 50-day window to ship your product.
Delay: If there is a delay in the expected shipping date, the company you purchased the product from must notify you. If the delay is 30 days or less with no response from you, that means you accept the delay of your item. If the delay is more than 30 days with no response from you, then the item must be canceled and the money must be refunded back to your account. If the company can not meet the revised date, it must notify you again.
Scammers text their victims telling them that they just won free groceries from Costco at a $130 value. All the customers need to do is give scammers their personal information, and they will supposedly get free Costco groceries at their doorstep.
In reality, the scammer takes this personal information and uses it to commit identity theft, stealing money from these innocent victims. They don’t ever receive their promised groceries, just an empty bank account.
There have been many people selling fake cures for the coronavirus, and companies saying that their products help with COVID-19 when they don’t. These products range from colloidal silver, essential oils, gels, etc. that they claim work with the coronavirus. These are false claims made so that they can take your money for themselves.
The FDA can pursue criminal persecution on companies on the list if they don’t stop advertising their products as cures to the coronavirus. There is no known cure for this global pandemic yet, and if there was the government would announce it on their future websites.
The scammer will call you pretending to be the IRS, and ask for your personal and financial information. They will claim they need this information to deposit the stimulus check into your account, and will also ask for a fee to deposit said check. In reality, they want your information so that they can pretend to be you and claim the check for themselves. They can also drain your bank account of your funds with this information and will keep the fee for themselves with no check, in return.
Scammers will pretend to be the IRS or federal government emailing you with fake “information” on how to get your stimulus check. They will also provide a phishing link for you to click on so that you can provide them with your personal and financial information to get your so-called check. Once you click on the link to the fake website, your device then gets plagued with malware and your information gets stolen. With this information, they can then either pretend to be you and steal your check or steal the funds from your bank account.
You will get a text from the “federal government” saying that you qualify for the government’s coronavirus stimulus check. It will then provide you with a link that requests more information so that the government can provide you with this check. Once you click on the link, it will plague your mobile device with malware and the scammer will steal your information. They can then use this information to pretend to be you to get your stimulus check or drain your bank account of money.
If you haven’t received your stimulus check yet the official IRS website says otherwise, it could be possible that you are a victim of identity theft. This means that a scammer has found a way to steal your information, like your SSN, and has claimed your stimulus check for themselves. The scammer could’ve committed identity theft in numerous ways, such as through an email, phone call, text, external link, etc. If you believe to have been a victim of this kind of fraud, you can report it here.
Scammers have created copies of the official IRS “Get My Payment” site and have updated their search engine terms so that people can search for their sites easier on Google. Once a person finds their site, they think it’s the official IRS website and will enter their information. The scammers can then install malware on their devices and steal their information to obtain the victim’s stimulus check, or steal their bank account information.
Scammers have come up with their own stimulus check programs claiming that they can give you additional money along with the government. They will send you letters in the mail, put pamphlets on your car, or send you an email or social media message trying to advertise their program. This happened to a man in Florida who claimed to have gotten an official-looking check of $3,000 mailed to him with a letter when really it was a fake check. Another example of this is a Costco relief program, claiming to help with groceries and money during this time.
Knowing who will get the stimulus check and how is a beneficial way to know that you can prevent yourself from getting scammed. The IRS will not call you or tell you another way to get the stimulus check, only scammers will do so.
If you would like a chance to spread awareness to our audience by sharing your experiences on scammers, scams, romance scammers, or having your pictures stolen by scammers, you can email us at ShareMyStory@socialcatfish.com! This will give you the opportunity to be featured on our YouTube channel and our blog, and allow our audience to watch your interview with us and read your story as they learn the signs of what to do to avoid being scammed.
You can also use Social Catfish to reverse search any name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image to see who you were communicating with when dealing with a scam. Whether its a fake salesman selling you fake cures to the coronavirus or someone trying to steal your money with a fake stimulus check, we can find out exactly who you were talking to so you’re confident when you communicate with local authorities about what happened.