The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has captured headlines lately, and has disrupted numerous routines and businesses. Now, scammers may try to take advantage
of fears surrounding the virus as well. Just like in other situations, there are steps you can take to protect your health, your technology and your finances from people who might try to exploit the uncertainty surrounding this disease.
The United States Department of Justice outlines some financial schemes that have already impacted consumers. Here is a partial list of known scams:
• Treatment scams — Scammers offer to sell fake cures, vaccines and advice on unproven
treatments for COVID-19.
• Supply scams — Scammers create fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email
addresses claiming to sell medical supplies currently in high demand, such as surgical masks.
When consumers attempt to purchase supplies through these channels, fraudsters pocket the
money and never provide the promised supplies.
• Provider scams — Scammers contact people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors
and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for
• Charity scams — Scammers are soliciting donations for individuals, groups and areas affected
• Phishing scams — Scammers posing as national and global health authorities, including the
World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
send phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing
personal identifying and financial information.
• App scams — Scammers create and manipulate mobile apps designed to track the spread of
COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
• Investment scams — Scammers offer online promotions on various platforms, including social
media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect
or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a
result. These promotions are often styled as “research reports,” make predictions of a specific
“target price,” and relate to microcap stocks or low-priced stocks issued by the smallest of
companies with limited publicly available information.