Criminals jump on any opportunity to leverage current events and people’s fears as a means to exploit and take advantage of people. The Coronavirus is no different. Many people in multiple countries including Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe, have fallen victim to these financial scams because these criminals are playing on people’s fears which can cause an ordinarily rational person to act in fear and fall victim to various scams.
Some of the scams encountered include:
- Stimulus Scam
- Phishing Scams
- Social Engineering Scams
- Non-delivery Scams
Stimulus Scam – This is the latest scam surrounding COVID-19. Scammers are sending out calls, texts, and emails requesting personal information, including account and routing numbers, social security numbers, and other personal information. They are claiming to need the information to deposit your stimulus check. Please do not give out any personal information to unknown sources, even if they claim they are authentic. If you are questioning whether or not it is authentic please look into it, call the company or agency they claim to be from directly, or call us with questions you may have.
Phishing scams – These are a cyber criminal’s attempt to gain access to personal information like usernames, passwords, and credit card information by claiming to be a trustworthy source.
Cyber criminals are sending out mass emails claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO). According to the Global Investigative Operations Center victims received emails from scammers posing as WHO with an attached document supposedly holding the latest information regarding the Coronavirus. Once victims open the attachment, various types of malware infect their system, or the victim is asked to enter their email login credentials to access the information resulting in harvested login credentials.
Advice: Never open attachments or links from unknown sources. The only documents that do not have the ability to carry malware and viruses are text (txt) documents. If you receive an unexpected email from a seemingly reputable source with an attachment, check the sources website for more information or contact them to double check before clicking any links or attachments.
Another scheme utilizing Coronavirus as a catalyst for scamming consumers, are social engineering tactics– a deliberate means of manipulation and deception, exploiting human emotion for personal gain– thieves set up on social media seeking donations related to the Coronavirus. Scammers take advantage of people’s charitable spirit to make a profit.
Advice: Take caution when donating to causes associated with Coronavirus.
The third fraud deals with non-delivery scams. Scammers advertise in-demand supplies that consumers want to prevent/protect against the Coronavirus. Some examples of products seen include: medical masks, gloves, disinfectant, etc. The scammers demand upfront payments or deposits, then take the payment and never complete delivery of the product.
Advice: Take caution when buying online. Use due-diligence to ensure transactions with reputable sellers. It can be hard to decipher whether a seller is legitimate or not. It is best practice to do extra research on a company before making purchases with them.
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