March 12, 2020
With the old expression “Never let a crisis go to waste” ringing through my head, I am not at all surprised to see that coronavirus scams and fraud schemes are spreading almost as fast as the virus. In fact, I wrote a somewhat-similar blogpost several years ago about Ebola fraud. It seems that bad people simply can’t stoop too low to cheat people from their hard-earned money. And panic caused by issues like coronavirus provide fraudsters with target rich environments.
Some of the most popular coronavirus scams include the “tried and true” malicious websites purporting to provide coronavirus data to frightened people anxious to learn more, and pump-and-dump schemes. Pump-and-dump is the term applied to illegal stock manipulators who buy shares in low priced penny stocks, spread rumors that the company has developed something that can help prevent or treat coronavirus, and then sell (or dump) the shares when the price goes up. After the truth comes out, the investors who invested in the rumors typically lose some or all their money.
In one headline-grabbing event this week, televangelist Jim Bakker and several others were warned by the FDA to stop making claims that products they were peddling could help treat, prevent, or cure coronavirus. The products included teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver.
While no one knows for sure what the final impact of coronavirus will be, one thing I know for sure is that it won’t be the final pandemic (or other type of crisis) we’ll have to face. And I’m equally sure that I’ll be writing another blogpost very similar to this one in the future, just with new names in place of coronavirus.