US victims lose $13 million from COVID-19-related scams

Successful COVID-19-themed fraud attempts perpetrated in the US, since the beginning of the year resulted in a little over $13 million losses, the Federal Trade Commission has shared.

The real amount must be higher, though, as these losses are just the ones associated with the 17,425 COVID-19 complaints the FTC received in the last three months and a half. There are surely victims out there that didn’t bother to file a complaint.

The FTC’s latest statistics

Despite repeated alerts from a variety of sources – the FBI, the FTC, the FCC – US citizens continue to fall for COVID-19-themed scams.

While the number of complaints is highest in the travel/vacations category, the FTC noted that most of these reports were about cancelations and refunds rather than fraud.

Scams related to online shopping are also numerous, but fraud attempts in which fraudsters impersonate various businesses seem the most lucrative: the total loss from 384 reported cases is $1.2 million, which is roughly $3,125 per case.

covid-19 fraud losses

Scams related to travel/vacations are the most popular form of fraud (though these ), followed by those related to online shopping. Fraudsters are also impersonating various businesses – and this is the most lucrative approach for fraudsters, it seems: the total loss from 384 reported cases is $1.2 million.

The FTC also analyzed the 1,225 COVID-19-themed Do Not Call reports they received in this period:

covid-19 fraud losses

Do Not Call reports are made by people who put themselves on the Do Not Call list, meaning they want marketers not to call them on the phone. Unfortunately, some marketers don’t use the list to avoid calling those individuals, and scammers definitely don’t even think about it.

Finally, the greatest numbers of complaints came from California, Florida, New York and Texas. This is not wholly unexpected, as these are the the four most populous US states.

Scammers don’t target just Americans

In March, Reuters reported that in just one month, victims in the United Kingdom have lost more than 800,000 pounds ($1 million) to COVID-19-linked scams.

Unfortunately, scammers and conmen will always find easy marks. The best we can do is to repeat and link to advice aimed at keeping consumers and businesses safe.

Don't miss