How criminals are exploiting COVID-19

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In a new age of social distancing, many services have been adapted to better suit our needs. We see this in curbside pick up, voting by mail, and relief funds. However, just as the world adapts, crime adapts as well. 

The following are some of the current COVID-related exploitations, scams, and other criminal activity to be aware of.

 

Photo of money and coins

 

Fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

PPP has been providing the roof over many people’s heads this past season when businesses needed to temporarily shut-down due to quarantine. Businesses would send the amount of money needed to pay for their employees’ paychecks and banks could then offer a loan through the PPP. 

However, this has become a popular method now for money laundering. Just this week a man from Florida managed to acquire 1.9 million through the PPP loan. More than ever people are in need of basic necessities due to the economic turmoil COVID has caused, and there are people ruining that through the exploitation of otherwise essential programs.   

 

Scammer text message stating "Walter, we came across a package from February owed to you. Kindly assume ownership and confirm for delivery here:"

 

Delivery text scams

Since COVID delivery has become more commonly used by everyone, and it’s certainly made scam delivery texts increase as well. Scammers will text individuals that to claim a package they’ve recently ordered they must go through a link.  

Then victims are taken to a fake Amazon site and offered a free expensive gift if they fill out a small survey. Once completing the survey victims are asked to provide their shipping address and credit card number. The gift is free, but there is a small shipping and handling fee. 

What the customer doesn’t know is that they are actually agreeing to a 14-day trial which will eventually cost them $98.95. 

Nowadays people are more likely to be expecting a package. This is undoubtedly why there has been a resurgence in this particular scam. If you see any text like the one pictured above, it is a scam. Do not click it, block the number, and delete the text message. 

 

Drawing of a mask, washing hands, and health insurance card

 

Refusal to wear a mask in public areas and businesses 

Like it or not, refusing to wear a mask in public places is now illegal and businesses have every right to refuse service or ask someone to leave if that customer is not following the proper safety precautions. 

What’s worse, sometimes the refusal of service leads to aggravation and potential assault. Just this week a pair of sisters managed to assault a 270-pound security guard when he refused to let them into a Stripes store for not wearing masks.

Luckily he recovered from the stab wounds to his neck, but such cases are a grim reminder that some individuals are not complying with safety precautions. Something which is so important during the time of a pandemic. 

While you might think it’s safe at home, there are still many ways crime can persevere and get through today’s obstacles. Stay educated on potential exploitations or scams which are continually evolving just the same as honest services.  

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