Stay Alert for Financial Scams, Especially Those Connected to COVID-19

Stay Alert for Financial Scams, Especially Those Connected to COVID-19
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Turns out the “Amazing Wealth System” wasn’t so amazing.

 

More than 13,000 people who bought into that system will receive a combined $9.1 million in refunds from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as part of a 2018 settlement. The system claimed it could make people rich by training them to sell products on Amazon, per an Aug. 11 FTC press release, but its owners had no relation to Amazon, and some of the online stores ended up banned from selling anything at Amazon.com.

 

You may not be in the market for an “Amazing Wealth System,” but you’ve likely received similar pitches via phone, text, email, or your mailbox. Over the past few months, some scammers have taken pandemic-based approaches, offering everything from miracle cures to personal protective gear that, once ordered, never shows up.

 

[MOAA’s 3-PART SERIES: Don’t Be Scammed]

 

As of July, the FTC had sent more than 250 warning letters targeting coronavirus-related false COVID-19 treatment claims alone.

 

If it seems like you may have received more than your fair share of such solicitations, you might not be wrong. Military members past and present, and their families, lost more than $92 million to fraud in 2019, according to FTC data, with the number of fraud reports topping 58,000.

 

Why more focus on this group?

  • Active duty families move frequently, which can make them easier prey for mail fraud and more reliant on unfamiliar service providers.
  • Scammers use veteran-specific scams – pitches for fraudulent VA loan programs, for instance, or offers to provide veteran records in exchange for upfront payment – to tailor their approaches.
  • Military pensions and regular VA disability or other benefit checks make tempting targets.

 

[RELATED: New Survey Shows Which Military Members Get Scammed the Most]

 

The best defense remains preparation. MOAA’s three-part series on battling financial and other types of fraud offers advice and resources, guidance for what to do if you’ve fallen victim to a scam, and a step-by-step guide for prevention, including online safety tips.

 

One piece of guidance stands out from the rest: If it sounds too amazing to be true, it probably is.

 

Stay Informed

It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re in the know and your military benefits are protected.

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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley