03 Apr COVID-19 Scam Alerts in News by Taryn Porter Stay up to date on the latest Coronavirus scams! The Coronavirus outbreak has global attention and is a national emergency in the United States. Since cybercriminals prey on fear, we can expect to see more and more COVID-19 scams as the situation progresses.
TYPES OF SCAMS YOU MAY SEE
Download our COVID-19 Scam infographic to learn more about common scams taking place during the pandemic.
Charity scams: You may see charities that you don’t recognize asking for donations in the wake of COVID-19. Verify all charities on the IRS tax exemption site. Our recovery page lists action steps to take after donating to a fraudulent charity.
Social media scams: Social media is a tool that cybercriminals use to distribute false information and capitalize on panic. If you’re looking for information on social media, visit trusted profiles like the CDC, World Health Organization, Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau.
Romance scams: Many of us are staying home due to the outbreak, so we are spending more time on the internet. Cybercriminals will try to capitalize on this heightened internet traffic to lure people into romance scams. If the person you started chatting with online asks you for money, it’s probably a scam. Take a look at these romance scam red flags and recovery resources for help.
Phishing Scams: Emails impersonating the World Health Organization, the CDC, and other reputable sources may hit your inbox. Don’t click on emails impersonating these organizations. For accurate info, go straight to the source. Visit the World Health Organization and the CDC’s websites. If you’ve accidentally clicked on a phishing link, visit our recovery page on FraudSupport.org.
Robocalls: Calls from cybercriminals pretending to be government organizations, family members in distress, banks/credit card companies etc. are on the rise due to the coronavirus outbreak. Robocalls are less easy to detect than they used to be, the caller ID can be adjusted to make it look like the call is coming from your area code. This establishes a false sense of trust. Visit our Phone Spoofing and Robocall recovery page for help. Work-from-home Small Business Concerns: Many of us have moved to remote work in light of recent events. Make sure your employees are trained to uphold cybersecurity practiced from home. The Cyber Readiness Institute has created a guide to securing a remote workforce, utilize these tools and tips to get ahead of cybercrime risks. Our Small Business Resource page has a curated list of tools to help you keep your SMB safe. If an employee within your organization clicks a phishing link, visit our SMB phishing resource page for recovery steps. Malware: Fraudulent links can install malware on your device. If your computer has been infected by malware from a malicious link, visit our recovery page here.
Bookmark this page (cybercrimesupport.org/COVID-19-Scam-Alerts) and check back for updates.
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LATEST NEWS UPDATES 3 April 2020 Grandparent scams in the age of Coronavirus: Grandparent scams can take a new twist – and a new sense of urgency – in these days of Coronavirus. Here’s what to keep in mind. Full blog from the FTC
2 April 2020 Small businesses: Where to go for financial relief information: If you own a small business or work for one, you’ve seen the headlines about financial relief that may be available to some companies through the Small Business Administration (SBA). But you’ve also heard about scammers who extract a grain of truth from the news and distort it in an effort to cheat small businesses. Now more than ever it’s critical for small businesses to go straight to the source for accurate information about what’s happening at the SBA. Full blog from the FTC
FBI Warns Of Costco Coronavirus ‘Stimulus Check’ Scam: Text messages claiming to offer “goodies” from big box chain Costco as part of a “COVID-19 stimulus package” for the store’s “loyal customers” are not only fraudulent, but they also include links that may contain malware or ransomware, the FBI says. Full story from CBS Chicago
BBB says scammers are targeting seniors during COVID-19 pandemic: The Better Business Bureau says seniors are being targeted by scammers who want to take advantage of the COVID-19 situation. The BBB says seniors are being targeted through text messages and emails. They say scammers are posing as the U.S. Department of Health. They tell the victim they need to take a mandatory online COVID-19 test in order to receive the recently approved stimulus payment. Full story from WHNT News 19 in Alabama
Don’t be fooled by coronavirus scams — or pay $20 for a four-pack of toilet paper: Opportunity is knocking for crooks looking to profit from the pain and anxiety triggered by the pandemic. Don’t answer their call. From online pitches for bogus COVID-19 vaccinations and home test kits, to fake offers for federal stimulus checks, officials say scammers are out in force trying to take advantage of a nation in crisis. Full story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
1 April 2020 Cybercriminals targeting Zoom, Google and Teams domains: The increased video conferencing activity due to COVID-19 has given cybercriminals the opportunity to use typosquatting and URL hijacking by imitating many of the top conferencing platforms. Full story from SC Magazine
Coronavirus fraud is so bad the FTC made a scam bingo card: With much of the country in quarantine advised to practice social distancing measures, the risk of scams has spiked. Already, coronavirus-related robocalls have gotten worse as scammers have pivoted to use fear and isolation to their advantage. Things have gotten so bad that the FTC has experimented with other ways to get people to pay attention: like a scam bingo card. Full story from Yahoo! Finance
Want to get your Coronavirus relief check? Scammers do too: You’ve probably heard the news by now – the government is sending out relief checks as part of the federal response to the Coronavirus. Scammers heard the same thing, and they’re hoping to cash in on yours. Full blog from the FTC
The Cybersecurity 202: Coronavirus pandemic unleashes unprecedented number of online scams: Coronavirus has inspired an unprecedented number of online scams targeting people and businesses – and researchers say the wave of attacks is just getting started. Full story from The Washington Post
31 March 2020 Cash App scammers are using coronavirus to exploit people: Scammers are using fake Twitter giveaways and payment applications like Cash App, Paypal, Zelle, Venmo, or Apple Pay to lure people into sending them money. Full Story from Quartz
Cybercriminals Targeting Video Communications Platform Zoom: In a report released March 30, security software firm Check Point found that cybercriminals are targeting the video communications platform Zoom. Full story from MeriTalk
La. Secretary of State warns of business owner scam amid COVID-19 crisis: Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin warns business owners of scam circulating that takes advantage of business owners during the COVID-19 crisis. Full story from WWL 870am, 105.3fm
‘Its a scam’: Calls, emails, or texts about government stimulus checks are bogus: Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Drew David says criminals are posing as the IRS just days after the federal government announced that it would be distributing stimulus checks to taxpayers as part of a $2 trillion effort to bolster the economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Full story from KLFY in Louisiana
Kentucky Coronavirus Fraud Task Force alerts Kentuckians about scams involving federal COVID-19 stimulus checks: State and federal law enforcement officials from the Kentucky Coronavirus Fraud Task Force alerted Kentuckians March 31 about potential scams involving payments from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress last week. Full story from The Paintsville Herald
Butler County officials warn of scams during coronavirus fear, uncertainty: Officials throughout Butler County and Ohio are warning residents to watch out for scams during the time of the coronavirus pandemic, when suspects will use fear and uncertainty to seek money. Full story from Hamilton Journal News
30 March 2020 60 and over in the time of COVID-19?: Right now, scammers are scuttling out of their dark corners to offer false hope (Home test kits! A cure!) and use fear (Your Social Security number is about to be revoked! Your loved one is in trouble!) – all to get your money or information. Full blog from the FTC
BlueCross BlueShield warns members of coronavirus scams: BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is warning its members that scammers are taking advantage of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The health insurer said reported scams include unsolicited phone calls that could be an attempt to fraudulently gain personal information. Full story from Wate 6 on Your Side in Tennessee
FBI: Coronavirus-related scams are increasing: The FBI says scams are dealing with fake charities, stimulus checks, even counterfeit PPE and sanitizing products. Full Story from WCNC
28 March 2020 Coronavirus stimulus check scams are out to swindle you out of $1,200: Do not give out your PayPal account information, Social Security number, bank account number or anything else if someone claims such information is essential to sign you up for a stimulus check relating to the coronavirus pandemic. Full story from USA Today
27 March 2020 Socially distancing from COVID-19 robocall scams: Scammers – and scammy companies – are using illegal robocalls to profit from Coronavirus-related fears. Listen to some of the latest scammy robocall pitches, so you can be on the lookout and know how to respond. Full blog from the FTC
New Coronavirus warning letters: Who can it be now?: In the ongoing battle against Coronavirus scams, FTC staff just sent warning letters to nine companies reminding them of the potential ramifications of behind-the-scenes involvement in illegal COVID-19 promotions. Full blog from the FTC
“Mandatory” COVID-19 Test Texts are a Scam: In the past few days, BBB Scam Tracker has gotten numerous reports of phony text messages claiming to be from a government agency. Full story from the Better Business Bureau
26 March 2020 FBI issues warning about COVID-19 stimulus-package scams:Hackers and scammers online have ramped up attacks to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, and that could mean targeting the US COVID-19 relief effort next, the FBI has warned. . Full story from CNET
Default exploited by ‘Zoom bombers’ could be used by cybercrooks: The same default setting that allows attackers to “Zoom bomb” schoolchildren or remote workers meeting online with racist and pornographic content could be used to by cybercriminals to unleash their malicious bag of tricks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full story from SC Magazine
Brooksville man sounds alarm on fake COVID-19 relief check in mail: A Brooksville man is sounding the alarm after he received what appeared to be a fake relief check in the mail. Full Story from 8 On Your Side in Florida 25 March 2020 Seven Coronavirus scams targeting your business: We’ve warned consumers about Coronavirus-related scams, but businesses are at risk, too. Keep your guard up against these seven B2B scams that try to exploit companies’ concerns about COVID-19. Full story from Federal Trade Commission
23 March 2020 Scammers are out in full-force as the country grapples with the coronavirus: The attorney general is reporting scammers are telling people that in order to get money passed by congress, citizens must pay an upfront fee. Full story from CBS46 News Atlanta Alma PD Warns Against Loan Forgiveness Scams: The Alma Police Department is warning Michiganders about coronavirus scams. Officers say some phony documents are advertising loan forgiveness programs. Full story from 9&10 News in Michigan
22 March 2020 Justice Department Files Its First Enforcement Action Against COVD-19 Fraud: “Attorney General Barr has directed the department to prioritize fraud schemes arising out of the coronavirus emergency.” Full story from US Department of Justice
Scam artists try to take advantage of people during the coronavirus pandemic: Scammers are acting as government officials telling potential victims that they’re there to clean and wipe down their homes, checking for the coronavirus. Full story from Fox 10 News Phoenix
District Attorney Warns Residents To Beware Of Coronavirus Email Phishing Scams: The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office is encouraging Santa Clarita residents to watch out for email phishing scams capitalizing on the coronavirus crisis in an effort to protect personal information. Full story from KHTS Radio in California
20 March 2020 Attorney General Urges American Public to Report COVID-19 Fraud: William P. Barr urges those targeted by COVID-19 related scams and fraud to report to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF). Full story from US Department of Justice
FBI Sees Rise in Fraud Schemes Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal your money, your personal information, or both. Full PSA from the FBI
BBB Issues Warning About Vaccine Claims, Mask Sales: The Better Business Bureau is warning the public that scammers will try and take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. Scammers can go after your personal and financial information text messages, social media, email, and phone calls. Full story the CBS Boston
US Attorney for Maryland warns of coronavirus fraudsters: If you see an offer for a coronavirus “vaccine” or “cure” that seems too good to be true — it is. That’s the warning from the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s office. Full story from WTOP News in Maryland
19 March 2020 Northern Michigan Officials Warn Public About Coronavirus Scams: Attorney General Dana Nessel says scammers are impersonating the Ionia County Health Department, calling to offer medication and asking for Medicaid and Medicare numbers for payment. Full story from 9&10 News in Michigan
Government Relief Checks Trigger Latest Coronavirus Scam: The proposed federal stimulus package announced this week includes sending every American a check to offset lost income from the coronavirus crisis. Watch out for these phony government grants that ask for personal and banking information. Full blog from the BBB
Coronavirus scams: greater risk of being a victim of pension fraud: As investment markets plunge and the government advises more people to stay at home amid the coronavirus crisis, pension savers face a greater risk of being targeted by fraudsters. Full Story from Money Observer
Scam robocalls are pitching fake coronavirus tests to vulnerable Americans: Every day for the past week, fraudsters have placed an estimated 1 million or more suspected suspicious calls about coronavirus to Americans’ smartphones. The robocalls at times even have pitched fraudulent testing services. Full Story from The Washington Post
18 March 2020 Alabama Power warns against telephone scam capitalizing on COVID-19 fears: Alabama Power is warning its customers of a phone scam. The company says people are calling over the phone, pretending to be Alabama Power representatives, and demanding immediate payment on accounts. Full story from MyNBC15 in Alabama
Beware the pandemic scam: Bowie police warn about fake ‘coronavirus inspector’: A man claiming to be a City of Bowie employee inspecting for coronavirus tried to enter one home and broke into a second, the Bowie Police Department said Tuesday. Full story from The Baltimore Sun
COVID-19 Map Malware Can Spy On You Through Your Android Microphone And Camera: Watch out for any links texted to your Android phone promising an app to track coronavirus. Downloading the application will let snoops watch you through your smartphone camera, listen to you through your microphone or pilfer all your text messages. Full Story from Forbes
Online scammers target vulnerable Internet users during coronavirus outbreak: Online scammers are on the offensive, looking to exploit the fears of vulnerable Internet users anxious for more information about the coronavirus outbreak, according to cybersecurity experts who are tracking current digital threats. Full story from ABC News
FTC warns about checks from the government: As the Coronavirus takes a growing toll on people’s pocketbooks, there are reports that the government will soon be sending money by check or direct deposit to each of us. The details are still being worked out, but there are a few really important things to know, no matter what this looks like. Full story from the FTC
17 March 2020 Secret Service Warning: Exploiting the Coronavirus for Fraud and Profit: KnowBe4 shares a review of coronavirus-themed spam emails as well as a press release from the US Secret Service. Full blog from KnowBe4
Deputies warn of potential COVID-19 scam in Oconee Co.: The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina reported that citizens are receiving calls stating that Medicare participants are eligible for a Coronavirus test kit and, in order to receive the kit, they must provide their personal identifying information, including their Social Security number. If you have shared your Social Security number, visit our Social Security Number Identity Theft page on FraudSupport.org for recovery help. Full story for 7 News in North Carolina
How to protect yourself against coronavirus scams: Scammers looking to profit off of fears surrounding COVID-19, like setting up websites that sell bogus products claiming to cure the virus. Full story from 9 News in Colorado
Police warning citizens after several COVID-19 related scams hit Louisiana: Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office warns Louisiana residents about several scams that have been hitting the area since the coronavirus outbreak, including a call from someone stating your family member is exhibiting signs of the coronavirus and is in hospital, but they can’t be seen until a deposit is paid. If you receive a phone call like this, visit our Friends/Family Imposter Scams page on FraudSupport.org. Full story from KLFY 10 News in Louisiana
16 March 2020 Army, White House Issue Warnings About Coronavirus Hoaxes and Scams: The White House is warning the public to ignore rumors of a national quarantine for the novel coronavirus, which were circulated by text message. Full story from Military.com
Coronavirus Map Malware: A fake map impersonating the Johns Hopkins world map installs malware on users’ computers upon clicking. This phishing link is malicious password-stealing. Find the real Johns Hopkins site. For malware recovery resources, visit us at FraudSupport.org. Full blog from KnowBe4
Password found to rescue victims of malicious COVID-19 tracker app: COVID-19 Android Ransomware threat addressed by cybersecurity and IT community. Password released to rescue victims from malicious software. Full story from SC Magazine
27 February 2020 Amazon bars one million products for false Coronavirus claims: Amazon discusses financial purchase scams in the wake of COVID-19. For recovery after a financial purchase scam, visit our resource page. Full story from Reuters Taryn Porter The author, Taryn Porter, is the Content Specialist for the Cybercrime Support Network. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.