10 Coronavirus Scams Trying to Steal Your Money

Dear Rich Lifer,

When notorious bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robs banks, his reply was “Because that’s where the money is.”

As nearly 160 million stimulus checks find their way into the bank accounts of millions of Americans as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, scammers are getting ready.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, coronavirus-related scams have already cost Americans $13.4 million this year.

Google says they’ve blocked 18 million malware and phishing emails related to COVID-19 in one week. 

“This is in addition to more than 240 million COVID-related daily spam messages,” says Google.  

Hackers are finding new ways to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. 

Going so far as impersonating public-health authorities like the World Health Organization and U.S. federal agencies like the IRS. 

Today we’re going to uncover some of these deceitful ploys trying to steal your money. 

Here are 10 coronavirus-related scams you should watch out for.

Scam #1) Expedited Stimulus Checks

Even though the stimulus bill was slow to pass and might be slow making its way to your bank account, the best thing you can do is wait. 

There’s been a spike in reports of authentic-sounding phone calls and emails offering to expedite payment or even increase the amount on stimulus checks. Don’t fall for these. 

You can check your payment status on the IRS’ website here. And if you’re getting the message “Payment Status Not Available,” there are three reasons why:  

  1. You did not file your taxes in 2018 or 2019
  2. You filed through a tax-preparer or filing software
  3. You make too much money

If you did not file your taxes in 2018 or 2019, the IRS has a website for that. 

Scam #2) Fraudulent Coronavirus Tests

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first at-home test, but test kits are in short supply. So, if someone is selling you “coronavirus tests” online, this is likely a scam. Always talk to your doctor before taking any test you buy and follow the test instructions closely. 

Scam #3) Fake “Cures”

There are a lot of conspiracy theories flying around with quacks blaming big pharma for suppressing a vaccine. Don’t go down these rabbit holes. 

These snake oil salesmen only want one thing from you: your money. And they’ll say anything to sell you their herbal “cures” and immune boosting pills. Unless the advice comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your doctor, be very skeptical. 

Scam #4) Blood and Saliva for Sale from COVID Survivors

It’s hard to believe but there are people claiming they’ve had the virus and are willing to sell you their blood or saliva for immunity purposes. 

Could this be true? Of course not, it’s a hoax. Don’t EVER buy someone else’s blood or spit online. It could be tainted with diseases like HIV or Hepatitis.

Scam #5) Strange Requests from Your Boss or Co-Workers

With new work-from-home measures in place, hackers are finding ways to mass email corporations impersonating CEOs and employees. 

The messages typically sound urgent and make some kind of odd request. For example, you might receive an email from your boss or the CEO saying that they’re locked out of a portal and need your password to access it asap. 

Always check the “sent from” email address in the request. You can often spot these fake emails a mile away because they’re typically sent from outside email providers. 

Scam #6) Bogus Small Business Loans

Scammers know small businesses are struggling right now and that the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan processes are not easy to navigate. 

Therefore, fraudsters are making websites that claim to help get your loan faster for a premium. Don’t be fooled. The only place where you should apply for government assistance for your small business is at SBA.gov.  

Scam #7) Fake Charities

It’s sad but true. Some people are willing to create fake charities to swindle the money out of the pockets of kind-hearted people at a time like this. 

Crowdfunding platforms make it easy for anyone to donate to groups and individuals in need. And for this reason they’re a blessing and a curse. It makes it easy for anyone to start their own donation scam. 

Don’t give money to a charity or cause unless you do your due diligence first. You can check out charity ratings here or visit the IRS’s website here.

Scam #8) Webcam Extortion

With more people communicating through Zoom and Facebook Messenger, the use of webcams has gone up significantly during the pandemic. 

Be mindful of your privacy and consider covering up your webcam when it’s not in use. There have been many reports of hackers emailing people with subject lines that contain real passwords of the recipient, obtained through data breaches. 

These hackers then claim that they have hacked your webcam and caught you in a moment of intimacy. If you don’t pay up, they’ll expose you publicly. 

Don’t pay these hackers. Mark the email as spam and delete it. If you’re still using that password for other accounts, change it. 

Scam #9) Phony Customer Support 

If you’re working from home, you’re bound to run into some tech issues. And since you probably don’t want someone coming inside your home to solve the problem, you’re relying on remote support. 

Hackers are counting on this and hoping you fall into the traps they’ve set, like fake websites and phony phone numbers posing as customer support. Criminals will do this to obtain sensitive information by having you fill out forms or reveal security questions over the phone. 

You can avoid this by going directly to your service provider’s official website and checking the Contact Us page for the real phone number or email contacts. 

Scam #10) Get-rich-quick Schemes

While the stock market is bucking, investment fraud and get-rich-quick scams are rampant. 

Scammers will say anything to get you to part with your hard-earned dollars. They’ll offer you “guaranteed returns” and sell you on stories about companies raising money for production of medical masks or vaccines. 

Don’t get fooled into thinking you’ll double your money fast, especially if there’s enormous pressure to act now or else you’ll miss out on an opportunity. The risk is not worth the reward in most cases. 

Keep these 10 scams in mind as you navigate these uncertain times and you’ll keep your wallet and health safe. 

To a richer life, 

The Rich Life Roadmap Team

 

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Peter Coyne

Peter Coyne is the publisher of all of Paradigm Press’ free and paid publications. He received his degree in economics and political science from Loyola University Maryland where he studied under the Austrian economist, Tom DiLorenzo. Before joining Agora Financial, Peter worked in Congress for Dr. Ron Paul until he retired in 2012.

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