COVID-19 scams

COVID-19 scams are frauds whose cover story primarily relies on the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such scams have been reported in multiple countries, primarily the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

COVID-19 scam phone calls in UK; heatmap[1]

Initiation

COVID-19 scams are initiated in a variety of ways, such as by robocalls, emails, fake blog and social media posts[2] and text messaging.[3]

Types of scams

Benefit/grant scams

In this variation of COVID-19 scams, the fraudster claims that the victim is eligible for a COVID-19 benefit payment. This scam is a derivative of the advance-fee scam, where the scammer will ask the victim for a small payment in return for the 'benefit'. The scammer will then ask for further payments under the guise of problems, until the victim refuses to pay any further. [4][5][6][7][8]

Authority impersonation scams

The United Nations WHO has issued a warning that fraudsters posing as employees of the WHO were attempting to gain personal information through phishing emails and fake help lines[9]

COVID-19 Vaccination scams

In this variation, the fraudster will offer to sell the victim a 'COVID-19 vaccine' or treatment. Victims who fall for this scam reveal their personal information and payment information to the scammer. In one reported incident, victims in the UK were sent a text message purporting to be from the National Health Service which claimed that they were now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but needed to fill their personal details into an online phishing form to book a place on the program. Information lost by the victims included their debit card information, which was then used to withdraw funds from the victim's bank account. COVID-19 vaccination scams have been reported in various countries including the United Kingdom,[10] United States[11] and Singapore.[12]

[13] [14] [15] [16] [17]

COVID-19 related stock scams

In the United States of America, victims were persuaded to buy stocks in companies which were claimed to be about to release a 'miracle cure' for COVID-19 through posts in Facebook.[18] The Independent reported that online adverts claimed to sell "vaccine bonds" purportedly linked to the US drug company and COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, which were sold with a minimum of US$10,000 investment. Pfizer confirmed it had no links to these bonds. [19]

As of mid-December 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended trading in 36 companies which claimed to have access to COVID-19 related materials such as testing kits and treatments.[18]

Losses

According to the Federal Trade Commission, from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to April 30, 2020, US$13.44M was lost in total due to coronavirus fraud.[20]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Covid 19 scam phone calls in UK; heatmap". Retrieved November 16, 2021.
  2. ^ Bellon, Tina (January 5, 2021). "A COVID-19 shot for $150? Online scams surge as slow vaccine rollout frustrates". Reuters. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  3. ^ Brown, Aaron (January 1, 2021). "Make sure everyone you know is aware of this dangerous NHS COVID-19 scam". Express.co.uk. Archived from the original on December 31, 2020. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  4. ^ "4 Covid-19 scams you should look out for right now". Salisbury Journal. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "COVID-19: Warning over texts offering fake 'third lockdown' HMRC grant". Sky News. Archived from the original on January 12, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  6. ^ cms-user31. "Beware fraud and scams during Covid-19 pandemic fraud". www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk. Archived from the original on January 18, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  7. ^ Bianca, Kerjan (January 13, 2021). "Avoiding COVID-19 vaccine scams". KRDO. Archived from the original on January 13, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  8. ^ "Public warned against Covid-19 vaccine scams in UK". Hindustan Times. January 9, 2021. Archived from the original on January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  9. ^ "UN health agency warns against coronavirus COVID-19 criminal scams". February 29, 2020. Archived from the original on March 8, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  10. ^ "Covid-19: Police warning over vaccine scam messages". BBC News. January 6, 2021. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  11. ^ Skiba, Katherine. "Vaccine Scams Rise Amid Nationwide Roll-Out". AARP. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  12. ^ Iau, Jean (January 8, 2021). "MOH warns of SMS scams as Singapore begins Covid-19 vaccination drive". The Straits Times. Archived from the original on January 10, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  13. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (January 13, 2021). "Scammers are claiming to sell Covid-19 vaccines on the dark web for up to $1,000 worth of bitcoin". CNBC. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  14. ^ Meadows, Sam (January 8, 2021). "Warnings over coronavirus vaccine scams used to steal personal data". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  15. ^ "Health experts warn of potential Covid-19 vaccine scam phone calls". NBC News. Archived from the original on January 19, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  16. ^ "5 Things to Know about COVID-19 Vaccine Scams". Archived from the original on February 9, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  17. ^ "Fraud Alert: COVID-19 Scams". December 24, 2020. Archived from the original on February 10, 2021. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  18. ^ a b Tompor, Susan. "Rising cases of COVID-19 stock scams threaten investors". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  19. ^ "Scammers target savers with fake Covid-19 'vaccine bonds', claiming they are backed by Pfizer". The Independent. January 13, 2021. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  20. ^ USA Today - 10 COVID-19 scams spreading right now that people are falling for Archived February 13, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. USA Today. Retrieved January 15, 2021.

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Covid 19 heatmap