The coronavirus outbreak has, from late 2019 through spring 2020, moved from a local problem to international crisis to global catastrophe. But there’s one group of people for whom the pandemic has not been catastrophic. There are people who thrive in periods of panic and uncertainty: scammers. And they’re now running COVID-19 shopping scams.
For the most part, the COVID-19 scams are nothing more than re-purposed versions of classic con games. Take for example the ‘good’ old-fashioned shopping scam. There have always been criminals out there selling counterfeit or poor quality merchandise — or just taking your money in exchange for nothing at all. But now, not only are the stakes higher, but the potential victims are often easier to fool, due to their increased levels of stress, urgency and uncertainty.
If you’re like millions of other people, you have at least thought about buying a face mask or other PPE (personal protective equipment). If you’re lucky, some local chain might have some in stock at wildly inflated prices, but at least you know what you’re getting.
On the other hand, maybe all the local stores and trusted online retailers are sold out. Or perhaps you want to buy a lot in bulk. You may even need to, if you’re procuring on behalf of a hospital or other large institution. In that case, you are likely to find that the suppliers are overseas, specifically almost always in China. What could go wrong?
COVID-19 Shopping Scams: Sellers Who Are Thieves
The most obvious case is when the merchant takes your money and gives you nothing in return. It’s straightforward theft, and it’s becoming far more common. A common tactic among these criminals to lure victims into their trap is to offer their non-existent wares at prices far lower than legitimate sellers.
COVID-19 Shopping Scams: Resellers With No Stock
Many folks pretending to be online retailers are nothing more than resellers. Not all of them are compete thieves, but they’re not what we’d call honest merchants either. Their idea, or hope, is to batch enough orders to be able to fulfill them eventually by buying bulk stock from a legitimate manufacturer or wholesaler. This hope is not always realistic, and many customers have been left holding the bag.
You will hopefully not be shocked to learn that many shady online retailers exaggerate the quality of their merchandise. But during the crisis, promising one thing and shipping another can literally be a matter of life and death. Countless victims have received face masks that fail to meet basic medical standards, or are even second hand! And others have bought COVID-19 testing kits that didn’t work at all. These are now classic COVID-19 shopping scams.
Did you fall victim to a coronavirus shopping scam? There is no reason why a global catastrophe needs to sweep your hard earned money away. You do not deserve to be another victim. If you are having a hard time getting your money back, consider MyChargeBack. We are a financial services firm with clients around the world. And we have helped people like you recover millions of pounds, euros and dollars. Reach out to us for a free consultation today.