Addressing consumer fraud around the world. The Baker Fraud Report focuses on mass marketing fraud – where victims never meet the fraudster in person but communicate over the phone, though the mail, or on the internet.
People are totally freaked out by the virus, and it is reshaping lives and the future in often unpleasant ways. We know that there is a risk, but we also want to know just how big that risk is. We all want accurate scientific data, but despite a flood of information out there, it is difficult to find really reliable information that is not colored by politics. So here is one piece of information people may find useful.
How do we know if we’re making good progress against the virus? It turn out it is hard to find out. Several of the public metrics that are almost always used are less than useful.
New virus tests: Testing is expanding rapidly, and most of those tested turn out negative. But of course if you test more people you are going to find more that test positive. So it is hard to see trends from that data.
Total hospitalizations: This is also a common feature for graphs, but since those hospitalized may be there for a long period, they are a poor way to show trends.
Deaths: Again, those who die may be hospitalized for a long period. Thus even if the virus magically disappeared tomorrow there would still be deaths in the days to come.
New daily virus hospitalizations: In my view, this is a great indicator for trends. It shows those people that have the virus and are really sick, and it can readily be tracked over time. Unfortunately, many states don’t seem to report this rate, so I was only able to find it for New York City. But that is the hardest hit place in the U.S.
Tip of the week: Online shopping, counterfeits and fraud. With so many stores closed people are increasingly shopping online for common goods. But a large part of those are actually counterfeit. In fact, over half the goods sold on Amazon are by “third party sellers” that ship directly to victims and not from Amazon; usually from China. Huge numbers of complaints to the FTC and BBB are from people who shopped online, paid with a credit card, and never received anything at all. So make sure goods you receive are authentic, and call your credit card company and dispute the charge if they are counterfeit or never arrive. And see my BBB study on counterfeit goods fraud
Prediction:Bankruptcy! We are almost certainly coming up on a flood of individuals and businesses that can’t pay rent, mortgages, credit card bills, etc. So expect a large wave of people in financial distress. And the scammers will be out there to take advantage. Watch for scam debt collectors, mortgage, student loan and credit card debt and other financial relief frauds.