CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolinians have lost millions of dollars to coronavirus fraud according to data from the Federal Trade Commission, analyzed by finance group The Ascent.
The data shows North Carolinians have lost more than 3.8 million dollars to COVID-19 related fraud schemes, making the Tarheel state the 8th most targeted in the nation.
The most-reported scam? Fake products and services sold online.
Also frequently reported are phone scams – usually, people pretending to be with the government, requesting personal information, often to steal people's stimulus checks and other government payments.
"Typically what they're trying to do is to steal the money, or steal part of the money or steal the information that you have to use to get that check or that payment," FTC commissioner Charles Harwood said. "Scammers follow the news like the rest of us- they are opportunistic when they learn about a new government program that involves payment to consumers or small businesses they leap on that."
Another common report and perhaps the most shocking: fake COVID-19 testing.
One victim, Shannon Wilson, said she paid $240 and handed over her personal information at what turned out to be a phony testing site.
"I don't know how many times they used that probe on somebody else and then put it down my throat, I don't know nothing," Wilson said. "And that in itself is horrifying."
According to the data, the more than 5-thousand North Carolinians who reported COVID-19 fraud lost an average of $346 each.
The FTC urges people to continue to report suspicious activity and identity theft as they work to crack down on the crooks.