According to the FTC, there have been 18,235 reports of fraudulent activity or fraud attempts related to the coronavirus since Jan. 1. In total, people have lost $13.44 million to fraud.
The FTC says the top categories of these scams entail travel and vacation-related items, online shopping and bogus text messaging, along with “all kinds of imposters.”
Robocall reports have been down overall, but with the pandemic, several people have reported to the FTC that they’ve received calls pretending to be from the government offering illicit medical or healthcare advice or making other dubious claims.
The FTC stated that no government entity would call to ask for money or personal information like credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, adding that any requests for payment through services like Western Union or MoneyGram are almost certainly scams.
On its website, the FTC breaks down the numbers of fraud cases by state. The highest concentrations are in the larger, more populated states such as California, which has over 50,000 reports; Florida, with around 41,000; and Texas, which has 36,000 reports. Nevada has also had a high concentration of such reports, with 200 cases for every 100,000 people in the overall population.
Fraud cases related to the pandemic have been surging with every passing week. In late March, the FTC only reported 7,800 cases, less than half of what has been reported now.
The FTC has also sent warnings to companies apparently peddling dishonest and unproven products claiming to treat the virus, as there are currently no known cures.
The companies in question were Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy, N-ergetics, Guru Nanda, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy and The Jim Bakker Show.
FTC Chairman Joe Simons said there was already enough anxiety over the pandemic and that there would be no tolerance for unproven cures, adding that the agency was willing to take further steps against offenders.