A new wave of scammers is using the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak to deceive people. By presenting themselves as members of popular health and charity organizations, they trick victims into sending them bitcoins.
COVID-19 Scams Involving BTC
The novel coronavirus put lots of people at health risk and threatened the world economy. Amid the seriousness of the situations, scammers have emerged trying to capitalize on people’s despair, according to a new report.
It cited the findings of the IT security company Sophos, which has been tracking cybercriminals’ actions during the latest global crisis. Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at the firm, said that the number of scammers trying to abuse the situation grows exponentially.
Cybercriminals began with simple phishing emails but have become more sophisticated now, he added.
“Numerous malware gangs began to disguise their malicious wares as COVID-19-themed documents. Now today, we are seeing cyber attackers impersonating WHO charities, this time the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. These emails are fake but very real looking and take advantage of new and until recently unheard of charitable organizations.”
Wisniewski also revealed that the scammers’ preferable source of payments is Bitcoin:
“The tell-tale clue is the request for Bitcoin, rather than credit cards or other currency. Due to the ability to trace and stop real wire transfers and credit cards, criminals prefer to rely on cryptocurrencies to attempt to preserve their anonymity and freedom, and the Bitcoin payment request seen here is a sign that something isn’t right about this email.”
The Nature Of The Scams
While all emails sent by the cybercriminals center around the COVID-19 topic, they differ in terms of content and requests, the scientist explained. Some of them pitch expensive guaranteed Corona-proof masks, videos on how to construct a bunker, and general guides to keep your family and business safe during the crisis.
In another scam attempt, the cyber attackers try to dupe the victims into downloading and installing a fraudulent application called COVID 19 TRACKER. It supposedly offers to track real-time coronavirus outbreak on the victim’s street, city, state, and country. However, Wisniewski added that the app contains grammar and spelling errors.
The scientist also said how people should act to protect themselves from similar scams:
“Whether you trust your government or not, criminals are emailing you to exploit your fear or distrust. Let’s be clear. If you want advice from those who truly know what is happening, visit the website of your local health authority or ministry of health.
If you really want to make a financial contribution to those helping us stay safe in this fight, don’t send Bitcoin, but go to the official website for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.”