JACKSONVILLE, Fla, – Florida’s top prosecutor warns that scammers are preying on the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody told News4Jax that charity scams are at an all-time high.
“We had one person that was purporting to offer to raise money for face masks for first responders, but at the same time, was selling those face masks at an egregious price,” Moody said. “I will tell you during a time of emergency, we see people come out of the woodwork, saying they’re raising money when all their doing is profiting off their crisis.”
But it’s not just fake charities. With people waiting for their stimulus check, scammers will promise to get that money to you sooner. In addition, with many people working from home, phishing attempts are more likely than ever.
Here are some ways to spot scams:
- Be cautious of coronavirus cures: Con artists will claim a company or product can cure or stop COVID-19 in an effort to make it seem like the investment is a sure thing. These claims can be part of “pump-and-dump” schemes where fraudsters boost a company’s stock price by promoting positive, but fake, information before cashing out their own holdings when the demand and price go up.
- Too good to be true: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Promises of guaranteed returns usually indicate fraud at worst or a scam in the best case.
- Think before you click. Before clicking on any links sent by email, text or through any social media platform, be sure that you know the sender and have verified the link is not a virus or malware.
- Fake experts. Especially as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, watch out for emails purporting to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or any experts claiming to have inside information about the virus. These are likely scams.
- What’s the rush: Time pressure and pressure to act quickly are signs that something is amiss. If a security or investment is real, it will be there after you have done some research.
The best thing you can do to stop these scams is if you see one, report it.
Anyone who suspects they are the victim of a scam should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-866-9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.
The attorney general also encourages consumers suspicious of price gouging to report it by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM or by visiting MyFloridaLegal.com. Price gouging can also be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by downloading the free NO SCAM app in the Android or Apple app store.