Live 5 Scambusters: New study shows COVID-19 scams jumped nearly 50,000% earlier this year

Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 1:33 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As the Coronavirus pandemic stretches into another month, the reports of COVID-related scams keep piling up.

A new study published by cybersecurity research company, shows coronavirus scams jumped nearly 50,000 percent earlier this year. Aliza Vigderman authored the study which dives into dozens of examples of cyber scams related to COVID-19. She’s been tracking data on these scams since March when the Federal Trade Commission started seeing a spike in reported coronavirus scams.

“It used to be they would get about three reports a day and by its peak at the end of May they were receiving nearly 1,500 reports a day,” Vigderman said.

Vigderman’s report highlights the most prominent scams, how to spot them, and how to report them. She says phishing scams have been the most common during the pandemic. Hackers impersonating a government or health official send emails or text messages in an attempt to get your information or install malware. Vigderman’s report says phishing scams account for over 80 percent of all security incidents reported and cost victims $17,700 every minute.

“Phishing is probably the most straightforward way hackers get your information because they literally just ask you for it,” Vigderman said.

The research highlights some commonly reported phishing scam subject lines. These include CORONAVIRUS UPDATE, POEA HEALTH ADVISORY, and WARNING! CORONA VIRUS.

“It’s very easy to fall for,” Vigderman said. “Even people who are cybersecurity professionals can fall for these sorts of phishing scams because the emails are meant to look legitimate.”

The latest data from the Federal Trade Commission’s page on COVID-19 scams and fraud shows almost 219,000 of these scams in early October, costing victims nearly $157 million.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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