According to a federal watchdog, since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, criminals have perpetrated over 400,000 COVID-19-related scams.
The schemes range from scam artists stealing personal details while claiming to assist people with funeral arrangements to fraudsters selling fraudulent hand sanitizer and vaccination cards online. Predators contact senior citizens to set up vaccination appointments for a fee in another famous scam. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans have lost almost $400 million due to pandemic-related scams.
Janice Gach of Weston, Florida, said she was nearly duped into a vaccine appointment earlier this year. She told CBS News that she gave her contact details to what she thought was her local health department to arrange an appointment.
Gach said her phone rang shortly after that, someone on the other end of the line pretended to be setting up an appointment. Gach, 87, was suspicious when the caller asked her how she spells her name.
“I said, ‘You should have my name. You’re getting in touch with me for the vaccine’,” she said shortly after hanging up on the caller.
More scams are anticipated, in part because a recent Supreme Court decision prohibits the agency from fining businesses that participate in scams. The court decision results from an appeal of the AMG Capital Management v. FTC litigation from 2012. The FTC accused AMG Capital owner Scott Tucker of deceptively and unfairly providing high-interest, short-term loans in the event. Tucker was forced to return $1.3 billion in earnings from his loan business in 2016 after a New York jury agreed with the FTC.