The outbreak of the Novel coronavirus has also led to the outbreak of new scams by opportunistic fear mongers who are looking to take advantage of the spreading panic surrounding the virus.
As of Tuesday, Feb. 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there has been 76,769 cases of coronavirus throughout the world, with the risk assessment remaining “high” on a global level. Fifteen cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States.
The fear and concern about the fast-spreading virus has opened the door for fraudsters who are taking advantage of the situation with a variety of scams.
According to the FTC, scammers and hackers have been “following the headlines,” and there has been a surge in phishing emails that appear to be from the CDC with suspicious subject lines. Those emails contain links that may contain a computer virus.
Other emails convince victims to re-log into their email account, which leads them to a copycat page, allowing scammers to steal personal information. The emails appear legitimate, with some appearing to come from CDC.gov.
Some fraudsters attempted to solicit “donations” to fund research to battle coronavirus, often attempting to collect bitcoin on behalf of the CDC.
“Criminals are disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information,” the organization noted in an advisory this week. “If you are contacted by a person or organization that appears to be from WHO, verify their authenticity before responding.”
According to WHO, the organization will:
- Never ask you to log in to view safety information;
- Never email attachments you didn’t ask for;
- Never ask you to visit a link outside of www.who.int;
- Never charge money to apply for a job, register for a conference, or reserve a hotel;
- Never conduct lotteries or offer prizes, grants, certificates or funding through email;
- Never ask you to donate directly to emergency response plans or funding appeals.
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