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COVID Scams Costs Consumers $358M

Published Friday Mar 26, 2021

COVID Scams Costs Consumers $358M

Research conducted by Rublon, revealed that COVID-19 scams, including promises of early vaccine trials and antibody tests, left victims out of pocket by $322 on average in 2020.

Research from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) shows instances of scams that start on social media have continued to increase. In fact, Americans reported $134 million in losses to social media fraud in 2019. In the first six months of 2020 alone, there were already reported losses of over $117 million**.

The ‘early access vaccine’ scam topped the list of the most prevalent COVID scam, which began after the U.S. Government granted emergency authorization for the first COVID-19 vaccines to go ahead, and entailed emails, texts, and calls from fake organisations promising unsuspecting Americans early access to a vaccine.

The platform’s research released a list of the pandemic cyber scams people should look out for in 2021, and the scams which people fell victim to the most while working remotely.

A ‘tech support’ scam targeting remote workers ranked in second place on the list, followed by a ‘COVID-19 trial invitation’ scam, where members of the public would be invited to take part in tests relating to COVID-19.

The five most common pandemic cyber scams:

1.           Early access vaccine - A series of emails, texts, letters or phone calls claiming to have access to COVID-19 vaccines before official Government sources.

2.           Tech support - Emails, texts and adverts stating that a person’s device is infected or in need of repair. The scammers will ask the owner of the device to download remote access software, allowing them to install real viruses in order to compromise one’s personal information.

3.           COVID-19 trials - This scam either states people could be paid to take part in COVID test trials, or to take part in an official antibody test and once a person opens a dialogue with the scammers this is when the scam begins.

4.           Phishing - A long-used tactic for gaining access to people’s personal data, phishing involves the scammer taking on the persona of a known-person, ie; your boss, nephew, or friend. Most commonly scammers will send a link acting as a trusted person, in order to encourage people to click the link, which then downloads viruses and malicious hardware onto their device.

5.           COVID-19 cure - This scam involves texts, emails, and fake adverts in order to get people to buy, or register interest in, a ‘Coronavirus Cure’. Sometimes people will receive a product of some kind, claiming to be a cure, while others will simply have their information/money stolen. These products are not real, and do not cure any diseases.

A list of all 10 most common pandemic cyber scams can be found at

Rublon’s fraud team also analyzed Google search term and keyword data to reveal which States in the U.S. were most concerned about scams in the last 12 months. The three states that had the most searching for ‘scams’ are Delaware at #1 followed by Nevada and Wyoming.

Going deeper into the search term and keyword data, Rublon also discovered that searches for ‘trap phishing’ had risen by more than 5,000% in the United States, while the number of searches for ‘barrel phishing’ had risen by more than 2,250%. Searches for ‘report PayPal phishing’ and ‘report phishing to PayPal’ had also risen by more than 550% and 300%, respectively.

Rublon is a two-factor authentication system that acts as an additional security layer that protects the password-based login process to web applications. The platform’s mission is to ensure all people are able to keep their data safely protected online, without worry or stress. 

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