True to form, cybercriminals are out in force trying to exploit the recent COVID issue. According to Action-Fraud, they have already netted close to £970,000 from UK victims. Source:
Why use COVID-19 in scams?
In phishing simulations, we see a sharp uptake of clicks and data submitted when a pretext pertains to the user being targeted. We commonly find that a phishing email that tries to portray an issue with salaries being paid for instance will get more interaction than an email where they aren’t impacted in some way.
Other common phishing emails use fear and intimidation to trigger us into a response without thinking. With COVID-19 effecting an ever-growing number of people across the world, we are attuned to this new risk. This actually the time it is wise to stay vigilant of updates from the government.
So, almost like a perfect storm, we have this trisector of events combining amongst a rather unfortunate event.
Examples of scam emails being seen
To give you an example of how ruthless scammers can be, there has been a series of cases in London where people are calling on elderly victims sheltering at home to collect grocery lists and money – then, absconding with the cash.
In the email world, there is a similar, very distasteful pattern of phishing emails praying on people. Offering tax refunds for people effected by the virus, fake shops selling essential supplies that don’t exist and a myriad of services that have popped up wit false promises of anything from testing for COVID-19 and even few miracle cures.
The concept of ethics is often preached by white-hats across the world. But being righteous isn’t for everyone and scammers will exploit this latest tragedy. I remember when a volcano in Iceland had an eruption and they were quick to use that as a means to deceive people. Using Coronavirus as a pretext is just another desperate plea for attention. We can by now, as a society all agree that humans are capable of pretty much any terrible act.
I will save the health advice for the World Health Organisation – Available Here. But as far as scams go it is business as usual. Yes the pretext is believable and it uses fear to entice people but you can still stay safe following advice from popular sources.
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