CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - New data from the Federal Trade Commission shows a sharp increase in Coronavirus-related fraud and scams in April.
The FTC tracks consumer complaints throughout the year and releases new data quarterly. It tracks reports of fraud, scams, and identity theft and breaks them down into separate categories. In late March, the database started to include daily numbers on COVID-19 fraud.
The data released April 15, 2020 shows more than 18,000 reports related to COVID-19 since January 1, 2020. These reports of fraud cost victims $13.4 million in losses for a median loss of $557 per victim.
The majority of these complaints are about travel but the report also indicates that most of these are complaints about cancellations and refunds. Online shopping fraud has the second most complaints. This would include fake products or price gouging on items like masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Government imposter scams are also on the rise and could continue to grow now that stimulus deposits are showing up in the bank.
In the last two weeks, the number of reports has more than doubled while the losses have nearly tripled. The report also breaks down fraud by state. South Carolina has 105 of the 10,069 reports of Coronavirus-related fraud. COVID-19 complaints of fraud overall make up about 3-percent of all fraud reports so far in 2020, but the median loss is more than double the amount from other reported frauds or scams.
You can report fraud or scams to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.