Experts Warn of ‘Consultants’ Promising to Secure Fake COVID Aid

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US consumer rights experts are warning of a new wave of fraudulent services claiming to help individuals and businesses get free money from government COVID-19 aid programs.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) claimed that victims can be snared via dishonest social media ads, search results and even recommendations from unwitting friends and family.

If they click through to the scam site, fake ‘consultants’ will promise to secure government aid money where in the past an application may have been denied — for example from the US Small Business Association.

“To get started, all you have to do is fill out some paperwork. This typically requires sharing sensitive, personal information, such as your full name, home address, and government ID numbers. Next, the ‘consultant’ will ask you for an upfront payment for their services. You may also be required to pay a portion of the government aid funds you receive directly to the company, which they will likely also ask for up front,” the BBB explained.

“Most of the time, these ‘consultants’ don’t really have any special information on government aid programs. Instead, they are simply hoping to get your personal information and an initial payment. Once you’ve paid, the consultant will disappear and the company will become unreachable.”

Victims will not only lose their money but, if they’ve handed over any personal information, may be at risk of follow-on identity fraud, the BBB warned.

The non-profit urged individuals and business owners never to give out personal details to strangers and to beware of promises that sound too good to be true.

It advised would-be applicants to visit government websites direct and, if dealing with a third-party, to research them and their claims thoroughly before proceeding. The BBB has a list of accredited businesses, for example.

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