COVID cons

As the coronavirus pandemic has raged, con artists have stepped right in: They’re exploiting people’s fear of contracting the virus or their need for quick money to make up for income lost in the wake of business shutdowns. Law enforcement authorities and watchdog groups have reported a surge in consumer complaints about scams that target virus-related anxieties. They include dangling investments in phony COVID-19 cures, charging people in advance for nonexistent home test kits or fake protective gear and offering help in finding a new job or quickly getting federal emergency checks. The Federal Trade Commission says it’s received more than 7,800 virus-related complaints since the start of the year. Consumers reported losing a total $9.6 million, with a median loss of $556, as of April 7. The agency normally receives about 3 million fraud complaints a year. The leading categories of fraud complaints include mobile texting scams and government and business impostors. Consumers should be wary of “spoof” phone calls from entities masquerading as government agencies. Consumers can report any type of fraud, not only those that are virus-related, to