Scammers often capitalize on fear, and the coronavirus outbreak is no exception.
The fake funding scam.
In this scam, victims receive bogus emails, text messages, or social media posts asking them to donate to a research team on the verge of a drug and/or vaccine for COVID-19. Unfortunately, any money donated to these “funds” will go to scammers.
The bogus health agency.
Scammers send alerts appearing to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the WHO; however, they are copied by scammers. The emails contain the logo of the agencies, and the URL is similar but not exact.
Victims believe these missives are sent by legitimate agencies. While some of these emails provide useful information, they often also spread misinformation. Even worse, they infect the victims’ computers with malware.
The phony purchase order.
Scammers hack the computer systems at medical treatment centers to obtain information about outstanding orders for face masks and other supplies. The scammers then send the buyer a phony purchase order listing the requested supplies and demanding payment. The buyer wires payment directly into the scammer’s account.
Keep the anti-malware and antivirus software on your computer current and strengthen the security settings on your devices.
Practice responsible internet usage. Never download attachments from unknown sources or click on links embedded in an email from an unknown sender. Don’t share sensitive information online, either. To verify a site’s authenticity, check the URL, and look for the lock icon and the “s” after the “http.”
Finally, it’s a good idea to stay updated on the latest news about the coronavirus to avoid falling prey to misinformation.
Spotting the scams
Beware of Coronavirus scams by looking for these little things scammers do. Scammers give themselves away when they ask for payment via specific means, including wire transfer or prepaid gift cards. Another giveaway is poor writing skills and misspelled words. “Breaking information” alerts allegedly sent by health agencies are another sign of a scam.
Make sure you protect yourself by following these guidelines and the ones set by the actual CDC, WHO, and FTC. Check out our MoneySmart Blog for more information on the Coronavirus and how to protect yourself from fraud.