American Consumers Have Lost $145 Million to Coronavirus Fraud

More than 200,000 complaints of scams and fraud have been filed so far this year, data from the Federal Trade Commission shows.

By Christina Morales and Christine Hauser

Americans have lost more than $145 million to fraud related to the coronavirus, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which said it had fielded more than 200,000 complaints from consumers.

Schemes related to the coronavirus peaked in the spring, and they focused on federal stimulus payments and other forms of financial relief, personal protective equipment, and unemployment and other government benefits, the commission reported.

The data was compiled by the commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network, which provides law enforcement agencies and the public with information about rampant forms of fraud. The network’s tracker of coronavirus-related cases includes nearly 206,000 reports of coronavirus-related fraud that were submitted to the F.T.C. from Jan. 1 through Sept. 22.

The median loss was $300, according to data from the commission. The losses could be higher for older Americans, who are often the target of this kind of fraud, said Lucy Baker, a consumer defense associate at the United States Public Interest Research Group, which shared the data this week. Many of the victims were older, she said.

“I’m not shocked that scams have been on the rise,” Ms. Baker said. “Scammers love natural disasters, especially in this environment where everyone is vulnerable.”

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