Coronavirus fraud is only increasing as the pandemic stretches on into summer. Scammers are looking for every opportunity to exploit this time of uncertainty and frustration. They’re selling fake puppies and stealing private information from first responders.
The latest scam to surge during the pandemic? Hot tub fraud.
You might be browsing Facebook or Instagram and suddenly see an ad for a temptingly cheap hot tub. And doesn’t it sound awfully nice to have your very own hot tub while you’re stuck at home?
You look up the name of the manufacturer, and it seems legitimate. Sure, the price is really low–but the company must want to cut people a good deal because of the virus, right? The pictures look professional, and you even see a little logo in the corner that says the site is secure.
Before you know it, you’re hitting that “buy” button. A new window opens, and you’re asked to create an account. You’re already committed now, so you fill out all the fields and enter your credit card information.
Bad news–you’ve been duped by a phishing scam. There is no hot tub, and you just gave away a ton of personal information. The scammers will use this information to hack into your accounts and steal your identity.
The basic template of this scam isn’t that different from many of the others we’ve featured on this site. Whether you’re trying to buy a used car, a hot tub, or a puppy online, scammers offer the same excuses and lies. You can’t come see the item in question because of social distancing. There’s a surcharge needed to transport the item, or a special fee to be paid because of the pandemic.
Scammers will try to squeeze as much money as possible from their “marks.” Unlucky shoppers have lost hundreds, even thousands of dollars this way as they try to secure an item that doesn’t even exist. In the worst-case scenario, the scammer will also steal your bank information and personal details to commit even more fraud.
“Criminals will use every opportunity to defraud innocent people at the end of the day and they continue to exploit every possible angle of this pandemic to do so,” DCI Gary Robinson of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit told the Guardian newspaper.
As ever, if a deal sounds too good to be true–it is! Trust your instincts and don’t let yourself get tempted by low prices or big promises.