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IRS Alerts Against Criminals Profiteering From Fake Coronavirus Treatments, Charities, Phishing, Other Financial Fraud

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IRS Alerts Against Criminals Profiteering From Fake Coronavirus Treatments, Charities, Phishing, Other Financial Fraud

The United States Internal Revenue Service said in a statement on Monday it had identified multiple malicious actors taking advantage of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to make a profit.

What Happened

The IRS noted that the criminal activities extend beyond scamming taxpayers out of their coronavirus stimulus checks.

The criminal investigation division of the federal agency said it had discovered scams related to organized selling of fake at-home test kits, fake cures, vaccines, and pills.

Several websites claiming to sell large quantities of medical supplies have also accepted payments but didn't send the shipments.

According to the IRS-CI, several phishing schemes and fake charities have tried to bank on the word coronavirus, and some criminals created fake financial reports claiming the value of a company will go higher once its coronavirus vaccine launches in the market.

"Criminals seize on every opportunity to exploit bad situations, and this pandemic is no exception," IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said.

"The pursuit of those who participate in COVID-19 related scams, intentionally abusing the programs intended to help millions of Americans during these uncertain times, will long remain a significant priority of both the IRS and IRS-CI."

Why It Matters

The number of confirmed COVID-19 is reaching 2 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and demand for key medical supplies, including surgical masks and hand sanitizers, remains high, giving an incentive to criminal organizations.

Internet-based marketplaces, including those of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), have been taking action against sellers for misinformation and price-gouging, but have struggled to take down malicious listings promptly.

In a lawsuit this week, Amazon and 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) said a third-party seller on the former's platform made over $350,000 by selling 3M's N95 masks at a 18-times higher price than usual, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

What's Next

The IRS appealed to report coronavirus-related claims to the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Stimulus check-related fraud can be reported to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and phishing attempts can be reported directly to the federal agency, it said.

Image: Wikimedia

 

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