The pandemic had a devastating effect on everyone’s personal and financial well-being during the preceding several years. In addition to the virus, the sickness, and the restrictions, people also suffered from scammers.
Victims were targeted by scammers who saw COVID-19 as a tool to steal money. The first five months of 2020 saw a total of $1.36 billion in thefts, hacks, and scams.
The US FTC has received 732,000 reports of COVID-19 fraud since the outbreak began. Out of these cases, 72.5% involved fraud or ID theft. Fraudsters defrauded consumers to the tune of $778 million.
COVID-19 aid programs were the target of approximately $1 trillion in fraud.
Bulgaria was not exempt from this wave of fraud. During the restrictions, associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet made it easy to survive and carry on with daily business. This was great, but it also gave the “bad guys” a platform to steal money, giving them an opportunity to exploit people’s vulnerabilities.
A popular scam was, claiming payment for non-existent goods or services. The scammer conned the victim into paying for a product that was never delivered. Scammers create fictitious online stores where they sell fictitious goods. They provide vaccines for COVID-19 and other diseases. No one ever hears back from the fraudster after making a purchase, and they also never receive anything in return. One site from Bulgaria was actually selling a “COVID Cure” (just to note: to date such a cure does not exist globally).
Another popular scheme in Bulgaria was scammers pretending to be from the government or some medical unit. They get in touch with their victims through phone calls, email, or texts about vaccinations. They require payment for the COVID-19 immunization or try to hoax personal information. The latter is, of course, used for further frauds.
In an attempt to steal your personal or financial information, scammers pretend to be government agencies and send texts and emails with the subject line “COVID-19.” Links and attachments in messages or emails go to the website of a fraudster. This hoax is called “phishing”.
and How to Identify and Avoid Covid-19 Scams
The first step is to go online and look at anything you can find. Even though an internet deal sounds like a great deal, don’t put your faith in it. Here are a few methods to tell whether someone is pulling a Covid-19 scam.
Don’t buy from shady online retailers.
Viral tests or vaccinations are not for sale.
Scammers pretend to be banks, large corporations, or the government in order to obtain sensitive data or money.
Covid-related phishing emails are sent out by scammers to trick their victims. Passwords and financial information can be accessed by the fraudster through this method. Erase upon receipt. Think twice before you click on anything when you’re online.
Victims of scams are promised government benefits. They want to know your name, address, and phone number. Do not give your personal information. The Government already knows it, and will never ask.
Before making a purchase on the internet, do your homework. Learn what other people think about a product by reading the reviews.
Do not click on links in odd emails or texts.
Don’t make hasty decisions when you’re under pressure.
If you’re unsure about a website’s legitimacy, don’t give out your personal information or credit card information.
Software for securing computers is a must.
Reporting a Covid-19 Scam
Local authorities should be contacted by Covid 19 fraud victims. Complaints in Bulgaria should be forwarded to the Government Agency for National Security in Sofia or to your local Police HQ. This is important, as it will likely save you from becoming a victim of such fraud in the future.