The spread of coronavirus across the planet had essentially shut down the spectrum of industries. Weeks after nearly every major country announced lockdowns, some regions considered opening up services. While researchers have urged governments to further expand the lockdowns, the stone-faced wall of bureaucracy has met with them.
One of the pandemic ‘s biggest fallouts has been the unemployment rate increase. More than 33 million people in the US alone have lost their jobs in the past 70 days. In the midst of this crisis, investigators have uncovered a large ring of fraud preying on the newly unemployed.
Members of the fraud ring have targeted unemployment officers in Florida, North Carolina, Wyoming, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Oklahoma according to latest reports. Investigators on the case have not dropped the idea that behind the attacks was a Nigerian criminal ring. An estimation and extrapolation of the hits showed that hundreds of millions of dollars could be worth of the capital stolen.
The gang’s modus operandi involves stealing personal details from the servers for employment and targeting the vulnerable. The Secret Service of the United States told the public of the possibility of criminal offenders targeting the unemployment funds, though no further specifics were released. A Secret Service statement said,
“The Secret Service’s primary investigative priorities are to mitigate any attempts by criminals that target citizens for identity theft and cyber-enabled crimes as it relates to COVID-19.”
Since the beginning of April, the numbers of such cases have been on the rise with more than 100 identity theft reports registered in the month alone. It was believed earlier that the fake claims of unemployment were random but now it has come to light that it is a coordinated effort.
Experts have said that if not stopped, these scams may increase to exponential levels. The country’s citizens are also in no shape to lose their existing finances because of the sheer burden it places on their families. Even after the government’s inflows, the economy was still limping, which, in turn, also affected the overall job market. Deceivers may also take advantage of the remote pandemic situation to prey on people who are desperately looking for jobs. The only way to protect people who are going through a difficult time is to ensure that awareness is spread evenly and at grass root level.