Scammers exploiting Coronavirus to target online users
Cyber criminals have always taken advantage of a crisis as an opportunity to scam people.
And sadly, new scams and campaigns aimed at taking advantage of people’s uncertainty around the Coronavirus pandemic are becoming increasingly commonplace.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received over 100 reports about COVID-19 related scams.
Scammers are doing things such as falsely selling coronavirus-related products online, and using fake emails or text messages to try and obtain personal data.
Other scams include phishing emails and phone calls impersonating the World Health Organisation, government authorities, and legitimate businesses – including travel agents and telecommunications companies.
Here are some to look out for:
A miracle cure
Websites and apps are cropping up which promise a miracle cure or absurd treatment like the example, right, which claims a “special AI” mobile app developed by Harvard researchers that can protect you from COVID-19.
Apps to track the spread of the virus
Watch out for Apps which pertain to track the spread of Coronavirus around the globe. In reality the app is ransomware, which locks the victim out and asks for a ransom to unlock the device. Ensure you don’t download any software to access the live tracking counter. The recommended trackers which anyone can access without downloading software is the Johns Hopkins CSSE. Or visit our Coronavirus Cases Infection Map that provides real-time global tracking of COVID-19 cases along with helpful information from Government pages.
Home Test Kits
Fake vendors have already started accepting pre-orders for a Coronavirus Home Test Kit; yet another scam to exploit users.
Follow only credible sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) for any information regarding COVID-19.
Watch out for the phishing scams
Watch out for scams tricking you into revealing personal sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes relating to the coronavirus.
Be extra vigilant when receiving any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.
In particular, be aware of criminals who are disguising themselves as the World Health Organisation (WHO) to steal money or sensitive information. If you are contacted by a person or organisation that appears to be from the WHO, verify their authenticity before responding.
Like all phishing messages, remember the following:
- Beware of online requests for personal information.
- Check the email address or link.
- Watch for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
- Look for generic greetings.
- Avoid emails that insist you act now.
Below are some examples of email scams being sent…
Newly set up scam websites
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about the impact of the Coronavirus on several global events, including the 2020 Summer Olympics. While many of these events have been postponed or cancelled, people are waiting to see if the Olympic Games will go ahead – and sites pertaining to contain information are cropping up.
In reality, scammers are setting up and registering website domains (such as covid-olympics.com) to entice you to sign up for more information (thus gaining personal details) or click on links (which could infect your device with malware).
For more information on the latest round of coronavirus scam or to query whether you’ve been the victim of similar scams, visit: www.scamwatch.gov.au/news/covid-19-coronavirus-scams
For helpful tips on how to spot phishing scam emails and text messages, read our blog articles below:
- Tricks to help you identify potential email scam attacks
- Australia’s 3 biggest cyber threats that target over 60s
- How to check suspicious email links on your mobile or tablet
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