Those cases have cost victims a total of $97.5 million to date, according to the FTC.
Even relatively small states saw huge spikes in COVID-related fraud in recent months, led by Maine, whose monthly complaints of coronavirus scams and identity theft quadrupled between March and July, the study said.
The report was published by the internet-based nonprofit group SocialCatfish.com, which helps consumers avoid being defrauded online by determining the true identity of individuals or organizations hiding behind a phony persona.
Scams taking advantage of Americans’ desperation in the midst of a deadly pandemic and accompanying economic upheaval “are running rampant,” said Richard Neil, a spokesman for the report’s authors.
Several newly flourishing forms of fraud involve fake promises of government stimulus checks, often perpetuated through “robocalls,” texts, or emails seeking personal and financial information the caller supposedly needs to deposit benefits into the victim’s account, according to the report.
Price-gouging and other consumer product scams have also become widespread, the study warned.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; editing by Richard Pullin)