SCARS™ Special Report: UNODC Cybercrime And COVID19 Risks and Responses

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SCARS™ Special Report: UNODC Cybercrime And COVID19 Risks and Responses

(Last Updated On: March 24, 2022)

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 to learn more about SCARS.™ Special Report: UNODC 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. And COVID19 Risks and Responses

During the global Chinese Coronavirus Pandemic scammers & cybercriminals worldwide are working overtime to take advantage of this unique opportunity to 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. tens of millions of victims.

The following is the analysis of this situation from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime – a United Nations oversight body tracking global transnational crime trends. This report is from the UNODC Cybercrime and Anti-Money LaunderingMoney laundering Money laundering is the illegal process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking transfers or commercial transactions. Money laundering can be done through various mediums, leveraging a variety of payment vehicles, people and institutions. Section.

NOTE: Report language was converted to American English for our readers.


There are three Key Judgments:

  • Cybercrime is evolving and growing in response to the COVID19 pandemic. Online 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., extortion, and online child sexual abuse targets individuals whilst ransomwareRansomware Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim's personal data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system so that it is not difficult for a knowledgeable person to reverse, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion. It encrypts the victim's files, making them inaccessible, and demands a ransom payment to decrypt them. In a properly implemented cryptoviral extortion attack, recovering the files without the decryption key is an intractable problem – and difficult to trace digital currencies such as paysafecard or Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are used for the ransoms, making tracing and prosecuting the perpetrators difficult. Ransomware attacks are typically carried out using a Trojan virus disguised as a legitimate file that the user is tricked into downloading or opening when it arrives as an email attachment. However, one high-profile example, the WannaCry worm, traveled automatically between computers without user interaction. primarily compromises systems – including hospitals. Governments will continue to be targeted by malwareMalware Short for "malicious software," this term means computer viruses and other types of programs that cybercriminals use to disrupt or access your computer, typically with the aim of gathering sensitive files and accounts.. The increasing spread of misinformation and disinformation will continue to confuse the public and undermine the scientific response.
  • Home-based working has increased the potential cybercrime victim-pool. People take greater risks online at home which inadvertently exposes corporate IT to cybercriminals. Phishing will continue to enable malicious access to critical systems for criminals and other advanced actors.
  • The quantity of specialist law enforcement counter-cybercrime personnel will be reduced throughout most of 2020. Cybercrime will increase in the short-term, and victims will likely face delays in achieving justice. Cybercriminals will exploit perceived operational gaps. Counter-intuitively, this will create tactical and strategic law-enforcement opportunities.


This briefing provides a snapshot of cybercrime threats within the context of the COVID19 pandemic.

It has been sourced from confidential debriefs of UNODC law enforcement, governmental, NGO, academic, media, open-source and private sector partners around the world during early April 2020. Recommendations are presented at the end of each thematic section.

Picture-of-Threat: Evolving, Increasing And Exploiting

  1. Comprehensive social distancing measures are now in place around the world. This has led to a significant increase in the use of online communication by public authorities, businesses and individuals alike. Many are unfamiliar with the use of online technology at this scale. This has presented a large, attractive and vulnerable target-set for cybercriminals to exploit. Combined with remote working and schooling, there are more Internet users, who are less knowledgeable of threats and are likely to take more risks whilst online at home than they would at work or school.
  2. Cybercriminals have evolved their criminality to exploit the social, legal, and psychological nuances associated with COVID19. School-age children, both the new and more frequent users of the Internet, are being proactively targeted by online sex offenders. This includes offenders seeking to groom[1] and sextort[2] individual children, through to broader infiltration in online classes[3] now referred to as “Zoom-bombing”.
  3. Cybercriminals are increasingly preying on people’s fear of the COVID19 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.: offering fake cures for sale on the Internet and defrauding through the sale of non-existent hand-sanitizer and medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medicines or hygiene products. Other frauds include the offer of services such as unsound investment advice (including cryptocurrencies) and incorrect medical advice and diagnosis. One major online pornography site offered free subscription to users from one country, thus increasing the risks of malware downloads and sextortion.
  4. Senior Citizens, who are often less sensitized to online risks, are explicitly profiled and targeted by cybercriminals to download and forward ransomware-infected links through COVID19 spam emails and spread disinformation amongst friends and family. Cybercriminals continue to seek to extort by claiming to know – and reveal – the victim’s alleged use of online pornography.
  5. Business Email Compromise[4] (phishing-compromised email accounts which pretend to be a senior official in the target organization) continues to use social-engineering, enhanced by the added urgency of the pandemic, to encourage the movement of funds to a 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. bank, foreign exchange or cryptocurrency account, or is used to obtain sensitive data for malicious use including espionage.
  6. Darknet forums continue to sell compromised data – including that of high-profile officials and celebrities. Criminals new to “cybercrime” are seeking advice from others on how to best exploit the COVID19 pandemic for profit. Some cybercriminals have sought to dissuade other cybercriminals from targeting hospitals and vaccine-testing laboratories from Distributed DenialDenial Denial is a refusal or unwillingness to accept something or to accept reality. Refusal to admit the truth or reality of something, refusal to acknowledge something unpleasant; And as a term of Psychology: denial is a defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. of Service (DDOS) and ransomware attacks. Predatory child sex offenders continue to discuss which social network and photo-sharing sites are likely to give them the easiest access to children to abuse. Offenders also continue to debate how to best identify and defeat undercover police officers online.
  7. In addition to traditional cybercriminals, Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups continue to evolve and exploit the pandemic. APTs continue to target Critical National Infrastructure including hospitals and vaccine development labs with malware, ransomware and DDoS attacks. The motivation behind such attacks is not simply profit-based as malware often provides access to login credentials and other sensitive information of intelligence value.
  8. The success of much of the COVID19-related cyber-criminality relies upon email phishing attacks as the initial vector of infection. When people click on a link or a document, the account is compromised. The compromise may be visible to the victim but, more often, the compromise is covert and enables the criminal to establish and maintain long-term access to the account, organization and associated IT. In addition to gathering sensitive information, the APT actor can deface websites, change the detail of documents, delete data and disseminate misinformation and disinformation.
  9. UNODC recommends that governments and the private sector increase public awareness campaigns which are culturally sensitive and easy to understand. Anonymous Online Child Sexual Abuse Reporting hotlines are a key facet of the response. We also recommend that security updates continue to be rigorously applied and information routinely backed-up.

Reduced Law Enforcement Capacity And Societal ResilienceResilience Is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Psychological resilience is the ability to mentally or emotionally cope with a crisis or to return to pre-crisis status quickly. Resilience exists when the person uses "mental processes and behaviors in promoting personal assets and protecting self from the potential negative effects of stressors". In simpler terms, psychological resilience exists in people who develop psychological and behavioral capabilities that allow them to remain calm during crises/chaos and to move on from the incident without long-term negative consequences. In popular accounts, psychological resilience is sometimes likened to a "psychological immune system".

  1. In many countries, specialist counter-cybercrime law enforcement personnel have been diverted from investigating cybercrime offenses to supporting government measures, such as quarantine enforcement, against the COVID19 outbreak. Specialist officials have also become ill. Capacity is likely to reduce further in the coming weeks, reducing the capability of States to counter new and increasing cybercrime threats.
  2. In several countries, investigative and judicial procedures are disrupted by the need to conduct these activities in-person, which is not possible due to local public health measures. Other countries have rapidly moved to online judicial operations.
  3. Misinformation and disinformation regarding the virus continue to spread primarily through social media and encrypted messaging services. Social media companies, also challenged by remote working, struggle to cope with the quantity of misinformation content, how to consistently apply internal policies and the impact of local legislation.
  4. Misinformation, disinformation, and attacks on Critical National Infrastructure undermine public trust and weaken the effectiveness of public safety measures.
  5. UNODC recommends that judicial procedures should continue online where possible, whilst ensuring that international standards and norms, due process and the rule of law remain.
  6. We also recommend that Social Media Companies do more to counter the spread of the COVID19 “misinfodemic”, whilst protecting freedoms of speech. Fact-based science must be at the heart of the COVID19 response – we all have a critical role to play in this.


  1. The COVID19 pandemic poses an unprecedented global challenge to all of society. Many have transferred their physical activities to online operations, as have criminals. As cybercrime increases in complexity and victims increase in quantity, law enforcers in some countries are moved to other duties. The economic impact of COVID19 adds a further layer of complexity for the public and for government. A perfect storm of potential cybercriminality emerges.
  2. Whilst COVID19 and cybercrime threats related to this crisis are global, responses must also be global: countering cybercrime in one jurisdiction reduces risk around the world. Information on new threats and crime types, like 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’s COVID19 analysis and INTERPOL’s Cyber Threat Assessment, must continue to be shared internationally without delay. Online Child Sexual Abuse reporting hotlines are a critical tool in enabling the public to counter the threat.
  3. Given the likely strain on both proactive and reactive law-enforcement, we assess that the capacity to actively investigate cybercrime will be challenged in the short-term – especially in countries with limited resources before the pandemic. Cybercriminals, including APT groups, will continue to exploit this. Public reporting of successful arrests or disruptions of cybercriminals who sought to exploit the current crisis must be enhanced. Highly impactive operations, like the Netherlands’ recent take-down of fifteen DDoS providers in one week[5], help to show visible impact and remind cybercriminals that operations continue around the world. Proactive undercover online operations against high-risk cybercrime actors must continue. Counter-intuitively, cybercriminals may take more risks online as they perceive that the likelihood of detection has reduced. Specialist law enforcement investigations must, therefore, continue at pace.
  4. Public diplomacy and awareness-raising are critical for prevention and must empower vulnerable groups, especially children and seniors. Measures against misinformation and disinformation should provide assessed, credible, and useful information: this must be done in a transparent and accountable manner.
  5. All measures used to counter cybercrime must continue to be Proportionate, Legal, Accountable, and Necessary. Technology is being used by many governments to assess, identify, and trace potential COVID19 patients. This essential work must remain under review, with clear oversight, to ensure that surveillance measures are withdrawn once the aim of outbreak control is achieved. Now is the time to build cyber-confidence with the public and to work together to counter the most pressing threats of our time. and to build confidence internationally.
  6. Now is not the time to de-invest in specialist cybercrime law enforcement. The capability and capacity to counter cybercrime are vital components for protecting Critical National Infrastructure, keeping children safe online, empowering industry, securing hospitals and supporting economic recovery from COVID19.
  7. UNODC’s specialist cybercrime staff are available, around the globe, to support Member States in countering cybercrime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.





TAGS: SCARS, Important Article, Information About Scams, Anti-Scam, Scams, Scammers, Fraudsters, Cybercrime, Crybercriminals, Scam Victims, Coronavirus 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., Chinese Coronavirus, COVID-19 Scams, Wuhan Virus,

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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 to learn more about SCARS. Inc.
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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 PoliceLocal Police The Local Police is your first responder in most countries. In most English-speaking countries and in Europe report to them first. In other countries look for your national cybercrime police units to report scams to. In the U.S., Canada, & Australia, you must report to the local police first. – 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 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. « »
  4. The SCARS|CDN™ Cybercriminal Data Network – Worldwide Reporting Network on « »

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

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