The Only People Embracing Coronavirus are Criminals

With the nation receiving stimulus payments into their bank accounts and many more paper checks being sent out this week, it is wise to keep a watchful eye on your account.

In our April 16th blog, we mentioned slick operators are out there looking to use creative tactics to steal that money from you.  AmSA has been in the trenches fighting to help preserve your hard earned dollars, but it is getting harder and harder to do with these sophisticated schemes we run across. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau claims elder financial abuse is on the rise and based on the many calls we receive, we see first hand that it is. Sadly, older Americans are strategic targets by criminals.  According to the National Conference of State Legislators, the financial losses reported by victims of elder financial crimes exceeds $2.9 billion annually.  With elder financial exploitation becoming such a widespread problem, 36 states addressed this issue during their 2018 legislative sessions and 24 states adopted resolutions or enacted legislation in an effort to crackdown on the nationwide crisis.

It is alarming that older adults are frequent targets of elder financial abuse, but what is more troubling, statistics show an astounding 57% of the cases are preformed by family, friends and neighbors, according to the National Council on Elder Abuse. No matter the case, our seniors need to be vigilant over their stimulus money during this time and for those who are unable to do so, hopefully someone can pitch in and be their protector.

Now, the coronavirus has opened the door for online fraudsters to target the older population.  As of April 21st, 2020, the FBI Online Complaint Center has received and acted on over 3600 complaints related to COVID19 scams.  Many of the complaints were from website's advertising fake vaccines and cures.  Others promote fake charity scams, malware or other creative scams to get you to hand over your hard earned dollars.  What really concerns us about our older Americans, many of the sites are designed to appear to be operated by health organizations, the IRS or other agencies that seniors trust.  Thankfully, as part of the recent coordinated federal effort spearheaded by the Department of Justice Department, hundreds of domain sites were disrupted including:

  • A website soliciting and collecting donations for the American Red Cross COVID19 relief
  • Websites designed to trick Americans into giving bank information  and other personal records
  • Other legitimate business sites that were used to control or distribute malicious software

As part of the federal effort to crack down on the illicit activity, the authorities analyzed complaints, ongoing fraud, phishing and malware schemes.  Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice Brian A. Benczkowski said, “The department plans to continue collaborating with our law enforcement and private sector partners to combat online COVID-19 related crime.” 

As for our older Americans, Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur summed it up succinctly when he said, “It is reprehensible that fraudsters try to take advantage of this global pandemic to line their pockets at the expense of the most vulnerable.”  There is no doubt our federal officials are doing their best to fight the pandemic crimes, but we must do our part and remain vigilant.  

Even when the coronavirus pandemic passes, these tips by the U.S. Attorney's Office are good for our whole nation to keep in mind: “Don't provide personal information or click on websites or links contained in unsolicited emails.  Don't become a victim..”


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