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Consumers Lost Over $500 Million Due to Covid-related Fraud

It will be many years before we have a full understanding of what COVID-19 cost us as a society. But as that information is incrementally collected and released, we’re starting to see the picture take shape. One of the most recent reports on the subject was issued by the Federal Trade Commission, which has estimated that consumers victimized by Covid-related fraud lost over $500 million.

The numbers are devastating, especially because there is a strong sense that the self-reported losses pale in comparison to those that went unreported. The FTC acknowledges that the more-than 558,000 complaints it has received since the start of 2020 barely scratch the surface of how many consumers have been ripped off by online shopping scams, fraudulent travel websites and other schemes. Far more consumers have likely shrugged off the losses rather than go to the trouble of registering a complaint. But based on the complaints that were lodged (60% of which were specifically associated with fraud), the average theft per person amounted to about $370.

It is heartbreaking to realize that fraud continues and thrives in the midst of a global pandemic, and yet this frequently happens in the midst of a tragedy. As citizens have struggled to avoid sickness and deal with isolation and job loss, unethical opportunists have set up fake online shopping and sites and found ways to rob individuals of their government stimulus checks. Even more have tried to take advantage of consumer demand: according to a Consumer Federation report, price-gouging of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks —items that were in short supply and desperately needed — was the most frequently-lodged complaint to state and local consumer agencies. Others reported issues with lack of refunds related to event cancellations, school and childcare closures. Illegal evictions were also common.

Of the 53,000 scams reported to the FTC, the lion’s share was about online shopping fraud, with approximately 16% indicating that as they spent more time indoors and online, they were tricked by “opportunistic websites” that advertised the availability of in-demand items, then never delivered. Consumers filed complaints about sites selling clothing, electronics, hand sanitizer, and pets, but the biggest losses were to sites that refused to issue refunds canceled vacations and travel. Ironically, the Better Business Bureau is reporting that now that travel has resumed, new scams have arisen offering fake airline tickets and other travel accommodations.

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Get to Know Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group)

Offices in Flemington, NJ and Califon, NJ

Our Mission: At Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group), we are on a mission to redefine the tax experience for individuals and small businesses. With a focus on personalized service, strategic planning, and expert guidance, we aim to empower our clients to succeed financially with confidence and ease.

Expertise in Action: With a wealth of experience and a team of dedicated professionals, we specialize in individual and small business tax preparation. While we excel in all areas of taxation, our passion lies in serving the unique needs of small business owners in New Jersey. We understand that small business taxation requires specialized knowledge and attention to detail, which is why we go above and beyond to ensure our clients receive the guidance and support they deserve.

Tailored Solutions for Every Client: Whether you're a high-net-worth individual seeking comprehensive tax planning or a small business owner in need of accounting and bookkeeping assistance, we have the expertise to meet your needs. Our team takes the time to understand your specific situation and develop customized solutions that align with your goals and objectives.

Why Choose Us?: What sets us apart from other New Jersey tax firms is our commitment to excellence and innovation in the field of taxation. We don't just prepare tax returns; we provide strategic insights, proactive planning, and actionable advice to help our clients achieve their financial goals. With a team of two CPAs, an EA, and an ERO, we have the expertise and resources to deliver exceptional service and results.

Your Success is Our Priority: At Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group), we measure our success by the success of our clients. We are dedicated to building long-lasting relationships, providing unparalleled service, and helping our clients thrive in today's ever-changing tax landscape.

We can't wait for you to experience the Prestige Accounting Services Group (previously Prestige Wealth Accounting Group) difference.

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