Tags: Coronavirus | Virus Outbreak | Income Scams

US, States Crack Down on Pandemic Scams Bilking Desperate Americans

US, States Crack Down on Pandemic Scams Bilking Desperate Americans
(Dreamstime)

Monday, 14 December 2020 03:37 PM

Federal and state authorities say they are cracking down on a wave of illegal schemes that have proliferated during the pandemic and prey upon the desperation of people who have lost jobs in the outbreak's economic upheaval.

The scams have ranged from the work-from-home reselling of luxury products, to pyramid schemes soliciting cash and that play on cultural norms in immigrant communities, to fraudulent investment rackets promising quick profits.

Regulators on Monday unveiled what they are calling “Operation Income Illusion,” a nationwide law-enforcement sweep targeting the scammers.

Especially vulnerable targets are seniors and retirees, immigrants, Black and Latino people, students and military families.

Reported losses to consumers from the schemes rose to the highest level on record in the first nine months of the year at more than $150 million, Andrew Smith, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer protection bureau, told reporters in a conference call.

“These scammers are taking advantage of a desperate situation to rip money from the hands of those who most need it,” Smith said.

The FTC conducted the sweep along with nine states, federal prosecutors in Arkansas, Arizona and California, several local law enforcement agencies, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

“There are people out there whose job it is to steal your money,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said on the conference call.

He said his office is seeing growimers are urged to tap friends, family, and church and ethnic-community members for money in addition to their own payment. A scam promoting investments in bitcoin was among them, Frosh said.

His office also has brought several cases against sellers of phony franchises.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Federal and state authorities say they are cracking down on a wave of illegal schemes that have proliferated during the pandemic and prey upon the desperation of people who have lost jobs in the outbreak's economic upheaval.
Virus Outbreak, Income Scams
275
2020-37-14
Monday, 14 December 2020 03:37 PM
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