Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Scammers are seizing on the fear and chaos swirling around the coronavirus pandemic to swindle people out of their money and identities.

Why it matters: Americans have reported almost $18 million in fraud losses due to such scams. The Federal Trade Commission received more than 23,000 coronavirus-related fraud or identity theft complaints since the start of the year, as of April 21.

How it works: Many schemes involve airline or vacation refunds, government stimulus checks, and medical supplies like thermometers or face masks to gain access to victims' personal and financial information.

  • The FTC sent warning letters to seven companies as of early March, including one owned by televangelist Jim Bakker, that are allegedly selling products they claim cure or prevent the virus.

The big picture: This isn't just a problem for Americans.

  • The United Kingdom's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau announced that around £2 million ($2.5 million) has been lost to coronavirus-related scams. At least 824 people have fallen victim to schemes this year, the BBC reports.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Canadians to look out for text-message scams linked to the country's $82 billion coronavirus support package, according to Global News Canada.

The FTC recommends that people not respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government, not click on links or download files from unknown sources, and ignore online offers for vaccinations and virus test kits.

  • The agency specifically cautions people to watch emails from scammers claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

Go deeper: The coronavirus chain reaction

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Trump: Coronavirus is "under control"

President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.

  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Aug 4, 2020 - Health

UN head says global school closures could cause "generational catastrophe"

Students wear masks and face shields at school in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday, AP reports.

Why it matters: Over 1 billion students were affected by closures in more than 160 countries in mid-July. Guterres warned the situation could lead to "a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities."

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