TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida consumers have lost millions of dollars to coronavirus fraud, according to a new study.
After analyzing data from the Federal Trade Commission, The Ascent identified which states have been hit the hardest by coronavirus fraud.
It found Florida is the 10th most-targeted state in the nation for COVID-19 fraud. The study said there were 5.14 fraud reports per 10,000 people, but noted Florida lost the fourth-highest amount at about $299 lost per victim – or a total of $6 million.
According to the FTC, a report is considered to be COVID-19 fraud or identity theft if a consumer mentions specific terms in said report, such as “COVID” or “stimulus.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warned the public in early June about COVID-19-related schemes that included fake COVID-19 grants and a contact tracing phone scheme.
Nationwide, 193,000 cases of fraud had been reported by the end of August, resulting in losses of more than $134 million.
“Unfortunately, we can’t trust the voice on the other end of the phone to always be truthful – even in the face of a deadly pandemic. I want to encourage all Floridians to engage with legitimate health professionals working to contain the spread of COVID-19, but to be cautious before providing information,” Moody said in a press release. “If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you will be asked by an epidemiologist from your county health department about everyone you’ve come in contact with over the last two weeks. The epidemiologist will talk to each person and ask them about their health. But they will never ask for your Social Security number or financial information.”
To report grant schemes or any other COVID-19-related fraud in Florida, you can contact the Florida Attorney General’s Office by calling 1 (866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.
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