KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Data from the Federal Trade Commission shows Americans have lost nearly $70 million to coronavirus scams since January.
According to the FTC, consumers in Missouri lost $561,000, while those in Kansas reported losses of $711,000.
That number only reflects the cases that were actually reported, meaning losses could be even greater.
The FBI and Secret Service have described fraud as the "other coronavirus crisis," writing "the more catastrophic the event, the more active the fraudsters."
As Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt explained in a March interview, the pandemic is providing more opportunities than ever.
"The bad guys see a much wider range of targets because they know so many people's lives have been disrupted. More people are out of work, they're working from home, they're worried about loved ones," Schmidt said, "All of those things can create the type of uncertainty that is the perfect environment for the crooks."
In both Kansas and Missouri, the highest number of reports were made for online shopping and travel/vacation scams related to refunds and cancellations. All of the reports specifically mentioned terms like COVID, stimulus or N95.
In both states, the median fraud loss was about $250 and the number of reports peaked in mid April.
The FTC has this advice for avoiding scams:
- Don't respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government
- Ignore offers for vaccinations and test kits
- Hang up on robocalls
- Watch out for emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO
- Do your homework when it comes to donations
You can find more coronavirus scam information here on the agency's website.