The Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers that over 90% of reports into the BBB Scamtracker in April were COVID-19 related or fake online sites.

Rockford BBB's Dennis Horton:

With so many people working from home, sheltering in place, and stores being closed for shopping, COVID-19 scams and online shopping is opening the door for consumer fraud.  A tip-off to the rip-off is fake websites luring customers with deeply discounted prices or hard to get items like COVID-19 tests masks

It's not just COVID-19 scams that are currently going on, either. It's puppies, too. Puppy and pet scams have been an alarming trend the past month, a scam which usually spikes around the Christmas season. The BBB says that, in total from March 24 through today, these alleged scams have cost victims in the Rockford area in total over $5000.00.

Dennis Horton:

BBB has done extensive investigative studies on Puppy Scams. The most recent victims this past month, say scammers are using Covid-19 as an excuse for pets being delayed and held at the airport. They also say it’s the reason scammers say they need more money for additional care or to get them through extra security. Reports have also come in from other BBB’s stating that the perpetrators say they are selling the puppies because the owner is an elderly person who is afraid of catching COVID-19 from the new pet.

Dennis tells us that other online scams this past month have included things people turn to often in an economic downturn including fake employment offers stealing both personal identity and money from victims, and phony investments.

Just last week, the United States Attorney General charged the operator of EM Central, a company registered in Michigan, with wire fraud for an e-commerce website that allegedly scammed companies into paying for N95 masks that never arrived. That company carried a F-Rating with the BBB, and one-star reviews.

The Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau is urging everyone to report incidents, even if you didn’t lose money, to BBB.ORG/scamtracker.