The extent of the fraud that has been committed in the US over the course of this pandemic is atrocious and unprecedented targeting both consumers and government agencies.
According to the Federal Trade Commission "As of June 7, consumers have lost nearly 48 million dollars due to coronavirus fraud." -- Senator Diane Feinstein
Personal Protective Equipment Scams
Beyond the immense sale of counterfeits, the committee notes that advance fee schemes where the victim prepays for a good have run rampant. Criminals have been keen to spoof email addresses known to the victim. This has not only affective individuals but government agencies as well.
For example, the FBI is aware of multiple incidents where “state government agencies, attempting to procure ventilators or PPE, wire transferred funds to fraudulent brokers and sellers in advance of receiving the items” and by the time the purchasing agencies became suspicious of the transactions, the funds were unrecoverable.
Paycheck Protection Program Fraud
There are a large number of PPP claims that exaggerate the number of employees that a business has--in some cases there are no employees. This is being addressed.
Social Security and Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Due to the number of data breaches in recent history, personal information including social security numbers are available on the dark web. Criminals have used this information to extract unemployment benefits using that information.
Tremendous Price Gouging
N95 masks prices have skyrocketed despite the fact that they were commodities before the pandemic. For more details about the appropriate prices for N95 masks, please see our post on 3M. There you'll learn that 3M has not increased their mask prices since the pandemic, and you can see the correct market price.
Any masks selling at prices beyond those levels have been hoarded. It is illegal to sell those masks. Criminal charges can be pressed for selling masks at market rates. Please report any suspected incidents of price gouging to the FBI.
Watch the full hearing here: