Scammers Taking Advantage of COVID-19
COVID-19 has created widespread uncertainty, fear, and anxiety, and scammers are using this to their advantage. The U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have all issued warnings about the various methods scammers are utilizing during this time.
Perhaps the most prominent methods are those directly related to the pandemic: medical, vaccine, and treatment scams. Some individuals have reported they have received calls and/or emails from people impersonating doctors or hospitals regarding family members or friends who have been treated for COVID-19. The scammers are requesting payment for the treatment. Other methods include advertising fake cures or vaccines.
Because of the pandemic, certain items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and masks are in high demand. Scammers have created fake stores, websites, accounts, and email addresses advertising they have these items in stock to lure people into paying for the merchandise, but they never provide the items purchased.
Scammers have also focused in on technology. Mobile apps can be used for just about anything, including tracking the spread of COVID-19. However, scammers have created similar mobile apps with malware in order to obtain the users’ personal information. In addition to malware, phishing schemes pose a significant threat. Phishing involves scammers posing as a legitimate and trustworthy source to trick individuals into providing sensitive information such as passwords, banking information, and credit card details. Scammers have been portraying themselves as national and global health authorities, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other scams relate to charity. Numerous fundraising initiatives have been created to help those who have been affected by COVID-19. Scammers are now asking for donations for those affected by the pandemic and using the funds for their own personal gain.
Be cautious when receiving calls or emails requesting personal information, don’t click on links from unknown sources, and do some research before making any donations.