Current Scams

Unfortunately, many scammers are trying to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to dupe people out of their money.  Many of the tactics being used are not new, but we must have a heightened sense of diligence to protect ourselves, and those at higher risk of falling prey to scams due to the increased isolation we are experiencing.  We will continue to add updates as new scams are flushed out.

COVID-19 Stock Scams

Like many of the circulating scams we have pointed out, shady stock promotions, like “pump-and-dump” schemes are not new.  But schemes are upping their efforts to capitalize on the pandemic to fraudulently promote the stocks of companies based on bogus claims.

  • Small companies, called microcaps or penny stocks are particularly vulnerable to this scheme because there is less information available about them and less interest in them from large, institutional investors.
  • Schemers may make phone calls, promote rumors on social media or online making false claims about a stock; touting the company’s products or services can prevent, detect, or even cure the Coronavirus.  They will offer you a chance to buy the stock and then just sit back and what the stock price skyrocket.
  • As with other schemes, a healthy dose of skepticism goes a long way around evaluating claims of testing, treatment, or other means to “solve” the pandemic.

Fraudulent Small Business Loan Sites

With the new round of funding for the Payroll Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, there are new attempts to try to scam business owners out of money.

  • Fake sites are being used to “help” business owners apply for assistance, taking a down payment to help them get a government loan. 
  • These scams take advantage of the fact that the application process can be tricky to navigate.

Be Careful with the Facebook #Classof2020 Challenge

This may seem harmless as people try to show support for graduating seniors who are missing the final weeks of their senior year and possibly graduation itself.  The idea is to post your senior picture from yester-year along with your high school name and graduation year.

  • High school name and graduation year are common online security questions, which hackers could use to mine other information about you.
  • This is a good reminder to be diligent about what you put out there on social media outlets and online.

Stimulus Check Scams

As part of the CARES Act passed and signed into law in late March, most Americans will be receiving stimulus or relief checks beginning in April.

  • Scammers are reaching out via social media or directing people to fake websites requesting banking information or personal information for you to receive your check. 
  • Others are mailing fake checks or claiming they can get the money to you sooner for a processing fee.
  • The IRS will never call you and request (or demand) personal information. Anyone who does this is trying to scam you. Hang up.
  • You do NOT need to apply for your stimulus check – it will be sent automatically. At this point, the IRS is relying on direct deposit to distribute those funds and no government agency will contact you via social media or ask for processing fees. 

Testing, Treatment, PPE Scams

Given the level of fear and concern over the pandemic, many people are looking for testing-at-home options, treatments to protect or “cure” them, and PPE (personal protective equipment) like gloves and masks.

  • Be wary of at-home tests that tout immediate results and remember that as of now, the FDA has not authorized any test for purchase to test yourself at home.
  • Be very careful about self-medicating with things being touted online as cures. These substances can be dangerous. Any treatment should be prescribed by a doctor and taken in strict accordance with prescribed dosages only!
  • There have also been reports of sales of counterfeit N95 masks or selling masks the seller does not intend to deliver.

Person-in-Need Scams

This scam has been out there for some time, but a good reminder to be diligent.

  • The scammer will reach out saying a loved one is sick or in trouble and ask you to wire or send money right away.

Phishing Emails and Malicious Website/Apps Scams

Again, phishing emails and malicious website scams are not new, but the pandemic has opened another avenue for these scams to target people.

  • You may receive fraudulent emails that appear to come from the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC, or other seemingly reliable sources.
  • The emails will contain attachments or links that will allow bad actors to control your computer, log keystrokes, or access personal information.

Fake Charity Scams

Scammers try to take advantage of your generosity by posing as a fake charity and asking for donations. Reach out directly to your preferred charities via their website and contribute to them directly.

Other resources:

It is important to stay on alert for scams, not only for you but for your vulnerable loved ones as well.  If you do not recognize a number or organization reaching out to you OR if it sounds too good to be true, it may be a scam.

© 2020 Financial Finesse, Inc.

All content is for informational purposes only and should never be considered, conveyed, or shared as legal, tax, investment, or financial advice under any circumstance.