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As coronavirus scams proliferate, Google launches scam-spotter tool

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Scammers beware: Google is on the lookout for you.

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The Mountain View, Calif., company on Thursday unveiled a new website to teach users how to spot and avoid some of the most common online scams as hoaxes and fake sites proliferate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The website, called Scamspotter.org, contains a variety of information about hoaxes and their standard patterns, as well as how to identify things like fake stimulus checks or even fake vaccine offers.

The tech giant launched the tool in partnership with the Cybercrime Support Network, a nonprofit focused on helping victims of online fraud. The website also includes a quiz that outlines a range of common fraud scenarios.

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“It will take a cross-generational effort,” Vint Cerf, a Google vice president and pioneer in the development of the Internet, said in a blog post. “If we learn how to spot the bad actors, we can spend our time focusing on those moments that matter.”

It’s well-known that scammers are using the coronavirus pandemic to their advantage to prey on peoples’ vulnerabilities. According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans have lost over $40 million due to COVID-19-related scams.

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Scammers are trying a wide range of tactics to gain access to peoples’ private banking and medical information.

The website is especially geared at educating seniors, who tend to lose more money than other demographics to scams, according to Google. The company urged young people to share the information from the website with the elderly people in their lives.

Cerf, who is 76, said seniors should feel like they can use the Internet comfortably, because “we invented” it.

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