MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — Fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic has reached $138,000,000, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
The states that have had the most fraud are California, New York, Texas and Florida, according to the FTC.
“We are hearing about many of these. We are in the range now of literally thousands of complaints that come in,” Special Agent in Charge with Health and Human Services Nenette Day.
Some of the scams are targeting people who are out of work.
Miami resident Jennifer Willis was a victim of one of the scams. She worked at the American Airlines Arena checking tickets and inside a store inside a Miami mall. But Willis was furloughed and in need a job.
“It is like we have all these bills piling up. So it’s like what can I do to help around here? And then it backfired,” Willis said.
It backfired because the perfect job Willis thought she found online turned out to be a scam.
“I lost 7000 dollars,” Willis said.
The fake company told Willis she needed to buy a laptop and software to work from home. They sent her various checks to buy the equipment, and then instructed her to use Paypal and CashApp to wire money to complete the purchases.
But the company’s checks bounced, and Willis’ money was gone. She reported the fraud to the FBI and Miami Police Department.
“I hope they get caught. I really do. Because what they did was so wrong. I would not wish this upon my worst enemies,” Willis said.
While fake job postings during the pandemic are not unsual, it is not as common as the fake contact tracer scam, according to HHS.
“A real contact tracer will be collecting information about your health and who you have been in contact with. A fake contact tracer who is running a scam will be asking you to provide personal information,” Day said.
Day says contact tracers will never ask for personal information or try to get you to buy something. If you are suspicious, Day suggest asking for identifying information and hanging up and researching whether the caller is legitimate.