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FTC warns of new coronavirus-related scams

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 18:22:05-04

BALTIMORE — Coronavirus scams have cost Americans more than $45 million so far, and they keep evolving.

From January 1 through June 2, the Federal Trade Commission received nearly 62,000 COVID-19-related complaints, with a median fraud loss of $459.

Recently, the agency put out warnings about the three scams below.

Phishing emails targeting college students
The FTC has received reports of a phishing scam where students were sent emails from impostors claiming to be from the financial department at their university. The message includes a link for students to log in and read the alert, but by doing this, you could be downloading malware, or giving away your user name, password, or personal information.

If you have questions on whether an email is real or not, contact the sender directly. Look for clues like bad grammar or vague details that don’t include the name of your school.

Social media games
Social media games promising money in exchange are really a chain letter-type of pyramid scheme.

They go by different names like "Blessing Loom" or "the cash app circle." Participants are told if they send $100 to the person who invited them to play, they could eventually make $800 by recruiting other people, which will move them closer to the inside of the circle.

However, there’s no guarantee you’ll get anything out of it except being down whatever you put in. This pyramid-like scheme is also illegal.

Stolen unemployment benefits
The FTC is reporting that impostors are using the names and personal information of people who have not filed unemployment insurance claims to try and steal their benefits.

According to the FTC, workers are learning about the fraud when they receive a notice from the unemployment benefits office or their employer.

If this happens to you, report the fraud immediately to your company, the state department of labor, and the FTC.

To prevent this from happening to you, review your credit reports often. Right now, it’s free every week for the next year through and set-up fraud alerts to better protect your identity from being stolen.

Be sure to report scams to the agencies below: