Watchdog groups are warning of a surging number of scams that target people who fear COVID-19 or need money due to lost incomeBy LINDA A. JOHNSON AP Medical WriterApril 8, 2020, 2:01 PM4 min readTRENTON, N.J. — Con artists are finding lots of marks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Watchdog groups and authorities report a surge of complaints about scams targeting people who fear catching the virus or need money due to lost income. Scams include “investments” in phony COVID-19 cures and charging people in advance for nonexistent home tests, fake protective gear or even overpriced toilet paper that never arrives. Other fraudsters offer “help” finding a new job or quickly getting federal stimulus checks, if people provide bank account and Social Security numbers or pay upfront fees. The Federal Trade Commission reported that through March 31, Americans filed complaints about losses to coronavirus-related fraud totaling nearly $6 million. Kathy Stokes, head of AARP’s fraud prevention program, notes “a significant uptick in reports” to its fraud watch network. And the Better Business Bureau, which offers anti-scam tips, is getting so many virus-related fraud reports that it’s started a COVID-19 category on its scam tracker. “They’re preying on people who are desperate,”


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