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Unfortunately, whenever there’s economic trouble, fraud goes up. With many people out of work, unemployment claims skyrocketing, and uncertainty in the air, fraudsters are currently trying to trick people out of their money using a wide array of deceitful tactics. Here’s an overview of what fraud looks like, how to avoid becoming a victim to fraud, and what to do.


Identifying Fraudulent Behavior

Fraud can come in many different forms. Criminals are constantly honing fraudulent schemes to more efficiently trick people out of their money. If you take away one piece of information from this section, it should be this: If it’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is.          

Let’s expand on what “too good to be true” means. If any of these scenarios, or something like the following scenarios happen, you’re likely a target of fraud:

  • You receive an unsolicited check in the mail.
  • You receive a notice that you’ve been hired at a position you never applied for.
  • You receive notice that you’ve won something without participating.
  • Generally, if you are mailed or emailed money from an unknown source, it’s almost certainly fraudulent.

The banking community has seen a 700-800% uptick in fraud schemes since the pandemic began. Numerous reports of fraudulent activities have been reported to banks all across the country.

To give you an idea of what a fraudulent scheme looks like, here’s a common scheme we’ve noticed recently:

  1. Victim gets a “job offer” for a position they did not apply for. The company may be real but often times not. Often times, the victim had recently uploaded their resume to a job posting site, so the fraudulent "job offer" may seem authentic at first glance.
  2. Victim receives a package with a check, usually about $1,000-$4,000 in value. Victim is told to use that money to buy equipment for their new job (computer, desk chair, etc.)
  3. Fraudster tells victim that they overpaid and requests that the victim sends back part of the money. There’s usually a sense of urgency here; the fraudster may say something like, “Send us the check ASAP or we may need to reconsider your employment.”
  4. By the time the victim realizes the original check is fraudulent, the victim has sent the fraudster money, bought equipment for a job they do not have, and is held responsible at their bank for the fraudulent check. Ultimately, this scheme can cost the victim thousands of dollars.

Given COVID-19’s impact on the economy, fraudsters know people are desperate for jobs and money. Shameless criminals have no problem taking money from folks who need it the most; stay vigilant in identifying fraudulent behavior.


What to Do If You’ve Fallen Victim to Fraud

If you’ve become a victim of fraud, try not to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Fraudsters are professional criminals – they’ve been practicing their unethical scams for years. Plenty of savvy people fall victim to fraud every year.

Oftentimes, victims of fraud will feel too embarrassed to alert authorities and spread awareness of their experience. However, to curtail such vile fraudulent activity, it’s crucial victims alert authorities. If you’ve fallen victim to fraud, report the fraud here. Once you’ve reported the fraud, spread awareness as much as you can. Let friends, family, and collogues know how the scheme transpired. The more awareness that can be spread about fraudulent schemes, the less effective the schemes are.

Finally, please spread awareness that fraudulent activity is currently spiking across the US. Feel free to share this alert with friends, family, and collogues. If our guards are up, fraudsters will have a much harder time successfully stealing honest folks’ hard-earned money.

And once again: If it’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is.