SCARS™ Coronavirus Scam Warning: A Social Disease – How Fraudsters Adapt Old Scams To Exploit The Coronavirus Crisis

Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Coronavirus ScamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. Warning: A Social Disease – How Fraudsters Adapt Old ScamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. To Exploit The Coronavirus Crisis

According to the Guardian: Criminals Who Formerly Tried to ‘Sextort’ People Online are Now Making Threats to Infect a Target’s Family and Friends

You get an email that is immediately threatening.

“I know every dirty little secret about your life,” it begins. “To prove my point, tell me, does [ONE OF YOUR PASSWORDS] ring any bell to yοu? It was one οf your passwords.”

The message goes on to inform recipients that the sender knows where they live, to whom they talk and how they spend their days, before delivering the punchline:

“You need tο pay me $4,000. You’ll make the payment via bitcoin … If I do not get the payment: Ι will infect every member οf your family with the coronavirus.”

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Welcome to the Underworld of Coronavirus COVID-19 CybercrimeCybercrime Cybercrime is a crime related to technology, computers, and the Internet. Typical cybercrime are performed by a computer against a computer, or by a hacker using software to attack computers or networks.!

Depending on your stance can be viewed either as the greatest public health and economic emergency for a century or a chance to scam a fortune from a captive market under effective house arrest worldwide.

A Variation on a Theme

These email threats are a variation of so-called “sextortion” scams – that blackmail with the threat of their X-rated photos being sent to their family and friends (inevitably, some will pay up).

Research has also found that the volume of coronavirus email scams nearly tripled in the past week, with almost 3% of all global spam now estimated to be Coronavirus COVID-19 related. Attackers are increasingly impersonating the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations, the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and other agencies as well.

Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at SOPHOS said: “Cybercriminals are wasting no time in shifting their dirty, tried-and-true attack campaigns towards advantageous lures that prey on mounting virusVirus A computer program that can replicate itself and spread from computer to computer or file to file. It comes to life only when you take a specific action, such as running a particular program. fears. Criminals often dip a toe in the water when there is a new or sensational topic in the news.

“In one of the spam campaigns we tracked this week, there was evidence of exactly that … The main body of the email pretends to come from a WHO email address with ‘health advice’ in the attachment, but when we carefully inspect the plain text body, we see it matches a previous spam campaign from [a familiar] criminalCriminal A criminal is any person who through a decision or act engages in a crime. This can be complicated, as many people break laws unknowingly, however, in our context, it is a person who makes a decision to engage in unlawful acts or to place themselves with others who do this. A criminal always has the ability to decide not to break the law, or if they initially engage in crime to stop doing it, but instead continues..”

These email spam campaigns are typically designed to obtain individuals’ personal information, which can then be used by criminals to steal funds. However, the range of different scams is far wider than a few rogue emails.

Neil Tyson, the director of the consultancy FraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim. Management Resource Centre in the United Kingdom, said: “Criminals will use the telephone, text messages, email, post or knock at the door. They will exploit all five of those. People will knock at doors selling fake test kits or fake cures. People will claim to be acting for the local authority, saying we need contact details in case of emergency. There are examples of that.”

Indeed,  The Public is Simply Not Prepared for Such a Focused Attack During a Time of Extreme Emergency

We are seeing door to door scams on the rise too! People are encouraged not to open their doors to bogus healthcare workers claiming to be offering “home testing” for the coronavirus.

Its concerns have been mirrored at the banks around the world – where it is understood that they have been expecting a rise in fraud because of the COVID-19 pandemic for weeks – as well as by similar warnings from a range of world bodies including the Financial Conduct Authority, the National Cyber Security Centre, the National Crime Agency and Action FraudActionFraud Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. WEBSITE LINK in the U.K.; the Department of Justice, the FBIFBI FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including financial fraud., and the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S.; and others around the world.

THE LATEST FIGURES FROM NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE ALREADY SHOW LOSSES OVER USD$10 BILLION TO THESE SCAMS!

These figures do not include the cases that have gone unreported since we know that historically only a very small percentage of victims (3-5%) will report – but the majority of the recorded cases concern online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitizer and other products that have never arrived.

Other frauds being reported include:

  • ticket fraud
  • online dating fraud (romance scams)
  • charity fraud
  • lender loan fraud
  • government check fraud
  • medical device and cures scams
  • friends and family emergency scams

ImpersonationImpersonation An impersonator is someone who imitates or copies the behavior or actions of another. There are many reasons for impersonating someone, such as: part of a criminal act such as identity theft, online impersonation scam, or other fraud. This is usually where the criminal is trying to assume the identity of another, in order to commit fraud, such as accessing confidential information or to gain property not belonging to them. Also known as social engineering and impostors. scams On The Rise

We have seen an increase in the typical romance scams or related emergency scams as well now. The Methods are the same but the scammers are switching to new emergencies that are based upon what is really happening to real people around the world: isolation, medical need, no money, and lack of food.

While these would not have been as believable just weeks ago, now it is impossible to know what is real.

The only solution is the simple “SCARS RULE”™ – if ANYONE asks you for money online – treat it as a scam.

Meaning that you can choose to donate when and where you want. But real organizations and celebrity appeals are always passive and generic. They are never person to person.

If anyone contacts you out of the blue online it is almost certainly a scam. Then if they ask or demand money – confirmed scam – regardless of their situation.

Quite Extraordinary

The lengths that some criminals will go to is proving quite extraordinary.

Last week, the U.K. Department for Education warned of a scam email asking parents of children eligible for free school meals for their bank details, for financial qualification so that their child could still receive meals during school closures.

Adam French of the consumer rights magazine Which? said: “This marks a new low in the abhorrent tactics we have seen fraudsters using to exploit the ongoing coronavirus crisis, which has unfortunately created the perfect breeding ground for scams.

“The best way for consumers to protect themselves is to remain vigilant and take extra precautions before clicking on any unsolicited emails, texts or answering calls. Make sure your computers, mobile phones and tablets are supported by the latest security updates, and consider installing antivirus software to minimise threats.”

COMBATTING CORONAVIRUS FRAUD

You need to be aware that criminals are attempting to exploit COVID-19 worldwide through a variety of scams.  There have been reports of:

• Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
• Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Malicious websites and appsApps Applications or Apps An application (software), commonly referred to as an ‘app’ is a program on a computer, tablet, mobile phone or device. Apps are designed for specific tasks, including checking the weather, accessing the internet, looking at photos, playing media, mobile banking, etc. Many apps can access the internet if needed and can be downloaded (used) either for a price or for free. Apps are a major point of vulnerability on all devices. Some are designed to be malicious, such as logging keystrokes or activity, and others can even transport malware. Always be careful about any app you are thinking about installing. that appear to share virus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
• Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.

Criminals will likely continue to use new methods to exploit COVID-19 worldwide.

Financial Hard-Times

Aside from the frauds that are already in operation, others will undoubtedly emerge, as scams travel almost like a virus. Some fear that law-abiding people who have been plunged into financial difficulties because of the pandemic may also be tempted to try their luck.

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers warned: “Experience shows us that – in times of austerity – insurance fraudInsurance fraud Insurance fraud is any act committed to defraud an insurance process and/or institution. Insurance fraud occurs when a claimant attempts to obtain some benefit or advantage they are not entitled to, or when an insurer knowingly denies some benefit that is due. (along with many other forms of fraud) tends to increase. This may lead to individuals – and owners of failing businesses – being tempted to commit fraud.

“We are also aware of several insurance scams that are beginning to emerge in the U.S., including … bogus COVID-19 health insurance scams – where scammers are pitching low-cost health insurance, promising full coverage at affordable prices.”

Warning To Everyone

If you get an email – regardless of the threat or the offer: relax, it is just a scam! Simply report it to your national police, FBI, FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov, ActionFraudActionFraud Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber crime in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. WEBSITE LINK, EuropolEuropol The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organized crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU member states. The Agency has no executive powers, and its officials are not entitled to arrest suspects or act without prior approval from authorities in the member states. Based in The Hague, it comprised 1,065 staff as of 2016. WEBSITE LINK, ScamWatch, etc.

If you are contacted by a stranger online – there are two approaches:

  1. If it is someone you possibly know or used to know – confirm with mutual friends if it really is the person you think it is. Scammers copy your friends and family’s profiles to try to scam you.
  2. If it is someone you do not know – do not respond!

In the case of all online scams, fake profiles, or other scammers report them to www.Anyscam.com and to your national police!

Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers out of your life:

  • Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus.
  • Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources.
  • Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
  • Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer..
  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
  • Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the WHO (World Health Organization) or experts saying they have information about the virus.
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • If you are threatened in an email or phone call – contact your local police immediately, then report it to your national police – FBI, FTC, etc.

Learn More

  • Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
  • Visit the FDA to learn more about real cures and treatments.
  • For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Watch the news for the agencies that are working in your country to help you and only go to official government sites. Always be careful about links and typing in a link – scammers create fake websites that are misspells of the real website domain name. Ask a friend for help if you need it on this!

REPORTING CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 SCAMS

Coronavirus COVID-19 scams are a different animal and our national governments are truly mobilized to stop them as fast as they can.

For the first time in our war against scams, we are now truly on a war-time footing and national governments are treating these scams as just as much of a threat as the virus itself. They are taking them seriously and because other forms of crimes are vastly reduced due to quarantine or home isolation – we have the full global law enforcement available to intercept cybercriminals and scammers!

REPORTING IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

To report all scams and online fraud in the United Kingdom go to Action Fraud’s website here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ »

REPORTING IN THE UNITED STATES

The Department of Justice is remaining vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.  In a memo to U.S. Attorneys, Attorney General Barr said, “The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated.”

If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving the Coronavirus COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home through a number of platforms. Go to:

  • Contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov
  • Report it to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov
  • If it’s a cyber scam, submit your complaint through https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

We Are All In This Together!

Every one of us is facing the same thing. We are all isolated and vulnerable, but we do not need to be afraid of scammers – this time they are not petty criminals, this time they are terrorists and being treated like that by law enforcement!

Report them, ignore them, and stay safe!

We hope to see you all on the other side of this crisis – safe and sound!

 

TAGS: SCARS, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, Coronavirus Scams, Virus Threat Emails, COVID-19 Scams, Online Fraud, Emergency Scams, Phone Scams, Email Scams, Reporting Scams & Fraud,

SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship ScamsSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance Nonprofit Organization
Visit: www.AgainstScams.org
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FAQ: How Do You Properly Report Scammers?

It is essential that law enforcement knows about scams & scammers, even though there is nothing (in most cases) that they can do.

Always report scams involving money lost or where you received money to:

  1. Local Police – ask them to take an “informational” police report – say you need it for your insurance
  2. U.S. State Police (if you live in the U.S.) – they will take the matter more seriously and provide you with more help than local police
  3. Your National Police or FBI « www.IC3.gov »
  4. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on « www.Anyscam.com »

This helps your government understand the problem, and allows law enforcement to add scammers on watch lists worldwide.


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To learn more about SCARS visit « www.AgainstScams.org »

Please be sure to report all scammers
on « www.Anyscam.com »

 

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