Tag Archives: Beware

Look Out for These COVID Related Scams

I got an email earlier from one of our cyber-security service providers. It outlined a few scams that are already going around related to COVID-19. I’m going to list them here for the benefit of my readers:

Malicious links
If you haven’t already, you will likely receive emails with links offering information about the virus. Many clients have already reported receiving emails supposedly from the World Health Organization, the Wall Street Journal, and other reputable sources, that are, in fact, fraudulent.

Tips: Be sure to look carefully at the sender’s email address, as well as the URL to which the link is trying to send you, before clicking anywhere within the message. Malicious links are often used to steal personal information, capture login credentials, or install malware on your device.

Fake charities
Another frequently used tactic that re-surfaces during times of crisis: fake charities. Bad actors may attempt to exploit your kind nature by asking for donations to help distribute a COVID-19 vaccine (there isn’t one) or similar causes. Be wary of these emails and do your research before opening your wallet!

Checks from the Government
Since there are reports that the United States government may begin sending money by check or direct deposit to American citizens due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Federal Trade Commission has made a list of three important tips to keep in mind:

  • The government will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money.
  • The government will not call to ask for your social security, bank account, or credit card numbers. Anyone who does is not legitimate.
  • Checks are not currently being sent out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is using this as a tactic to get your money.

That last one primarily applies to the U.S. but may come into play elsewhere if other countries do something similar.

I’m In Jail! HELP ME!

I have NO idea how common this is elsewhere, but a sophisticated scam that’s making the rounds here in the US is a phone call asking to post bail for a loved one or friend, OR that they are down in Mexico and have been kidnapped by a drug cartel.

These scammers comb social media to gather enough personal information to sell the story and sometimes even can get voice recordings via YouTube and Facebook videos which they then run through a computer to create deep fakes of the person’s voice. When they can go this far and have enough personal information, they’ll outright call an intended victim (as opposed to this scam sometimes taking the form of email).

With COVID-19 out there, the latest variations on this scam are that the person is in jail after being arrested on the way to get tested for COVID-19, or they need money for treatment.

Call the person supposedly in trouble and verify! Scamming has gotten much more sophisticated since the days of the Nigerian Prince email scam (which is still out there, because it’s still working).