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U.S. citizens have lost $100 million to stimulus cheque fraud

U.S. citizens have lost over $100 million to COVID-19 and stimulus cheque fraud, according to a new study by The Ascent. The data showed some 160,000 fraud applications filed during May 2020 alone. Within the broad statistic, California endured the highest number of COVID-19 fraud losses with over $15 million.

The primary types of fraud have been:

Marketing fake at-home COVID-19 test kits.
Selling fake coronavirus vaccination kits.
Individual’s stimulus payments being stolen through various forms of identity theft.
Robocalls targeting landlines and mobiles, offering scam services. Such services include inexpensive health insurance.
Getting people to pay upfront for non-existent work-from-home jobs
Sales of personal protective equipment with delivery dates that cannot possible be met, for exorbitant prices.

To arrive at these conclusions, The Ascent analyzed data from the Federal Trade Commission to identify where consumers are most at risk of stimulus cheque and COVID-19 fraud occurring. The biggest fraud ‘topics’ used to entice people into parting with their money, travel and vacation fraud resulted in 2.5 times more in losses than online shopping at over $35 million.

In terms of the relative extent of the different types of fraud, it was unearthed that consumers reported 9,677 cases of fraud where they were contacted by phone. This turned out to be more than any other type of contact method. However, in terms of what has proved most lucrative to criminals, fraud via email resulted in the most losses, at almost $18 million.

Consumers between the ages of 30 and 39 posted the highest number of fraud reports, but only had the fourth-highest dollar losses. Those in the 40–49 age group had the largest losses with over $12 million.

In terms of how criminals extracted money from people, credit cards were the most common payment method used by victims of these COVID-19 scams. In terms of the biggest dollar loses, wire transfers resulted $24.64 million being taken.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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