13 Coronavirus Scams You Need To Avoid Now

 

Social Distancing Does Not Protect You From Online Fraud

It’s a brave new world out there. The official number of Coronavirus cases worldwide is over 7.53 million, while the number of deaths passed 421,000 today. Recoveries are increasing massively too, over 3.8 million being already treated and released. However, the bad news continue to come.

While governments and citizens alike are trying to protect themselves from the new COVID-19 virus by social distancing, cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of the situation by duping us with a wide range of scams, from fake penalties for breaking the quarantine to the air filter sales and service tricks.

Here are 13 COVID-19 scams to watch out for. 

1. Support COVID-19 Research

Better treatment regimens or a new vaccine to protect us from COVID-19 is likely at the top of most people’s minds. It’s a great idea to donate money for funding and research, but make sure you do it directly through legitimate organizations, hospitals or fundraising institutions.

A series of emails are going around this week claiming to be from well-known organizations, some even including free Starbucks gift cards or Pepsi donations for the crisis. See a screenshot of such fake message below.

Don’t be fooled into giving your credit card details online or over the phone. If you’re looking to donate, make sure you call them. They shouldn’t be calling you. Also, get to know the COVID-19 health myths before believing anything.

support coronavirus research

2. Suspend Your Mortgage Payments and Get a Tax Rebate

Criminals also take advantage of the situation and the concerns faced by households across the world in regards to how the authorities will help businesses and individuals during AND after the Coronavirus crisis. There are talks that some people can suspend their mortgage payments until everything calms down.

Cybercrooks also send false emails claiming to be from the Government and offer support in the form of a tax rebate (here is the OFFICIAL, real, full list with Government grants for individuals in the US, UK, Canada and Australia). The emails try to fool the people by appearing official, telling recipients how much they can expect to claim and urging them to click a link to receive it. Once the link is clicked, victims are asked to provide personal details, including sensitive banking information.

3. Advisory Emails with Latest Updates

Phishing emails often look to be from a legitimate sender but are in fact, spam. They’ll often tell you that you need to check out the latest medical advices and updates and will tell you to click on the link provided.

Scammers are claiming to be from well-known authorities, including NATO, World Health Organization or your government.

covid 19 advisory updates

4. Official COVID-19 Forms to be Filled

One of the most vulnerable groups to scams are the elderly. Even if they don’t use the Internet, this group may be at risk for receiving hard copies of official-looking forms at their place of residence. There are reports that “official COVID-19 forms” have been physically distributed to vulnerable groups at retirement villages.

These forms may have promises of government cheques or bonuses but are fake and should not be filled out with any personal information. Never attach any picture or photocopy of government ID to bogus paperwork. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Door-to-Door Coronavirus Testing

There have been reports that questionable characters walk into neighborhoods knocking on doors claiming to be testing/ preparing to test for Coronavirus (see image below). According to Police, they ask for personal information that could lead to identity theft.

how to test for coronavirus 2

6. Text Message About Coronavirus Testing

There is a text message circulating these days inviting people to register for the COVID-19 testing. It goes like this: “You’ve received a new message regarding the COVID-19 safetyline symptoms and when to get tested in your geographical area. Visit https://covid19-info[.]online”. Avoid and delete!

coronavirus text message

7. Your Bank Contacts You With Updates

While it’s true that banks, post-offices, and other companies are tentatively shutting down certain locations, you will never have to sign up and register to use a different branch.

If you receive a note asking to download an app or a registration form, don’t do it. You’ll likely just be infecting your device with malware and find yourself at risk of losing your personal information to the spammers.

8. Your Relative Has Coronavirus

This is another telephone scam. Chances are, if someone you love becomes sick with COVID-19, you’ll be hearing it from them directly. Hospitals and clinics should not be calling you or other family members looking for money.

Most governments, including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom will cover any related health-care costs directly.

Even the United States is getting on board with covering health care costs related to COVID-19, so make sure you check with your public health-care plan before you pay any bills.

covid 19 test

9. Receive Government Benefits

Public benefit packages are available to people who qualify through a legitimate application and screening process through government websites and phone numbers. They will never contact you asking for your personal information. It is the case of the Coronavirus Medical Benefits Scam.

If someone reaches out to you claiming to be from the government and requests your personal information, hang up immediately.

Nobody from the government should be calling you unless you’ve already initiated contact through legitimate means, and they will never ask for your credit card or other personal information.

10. Download the Official COVID-19 Map

We’ve exposed the Coronavirus Map Scam a few days ago, but new variants of it continue to pop-up. Watch out and do not download any software that may promise to keep you up to date with the newest numbers. According to a research done by Thomas Brewster, Associated Editor at Forbes, COVID-19 map malware can spy on you through your Android microphone and camera!

“Watch out for any links texted to your Android phone promising an app to track coronavirus. Downloading the application will let snoops, suspected to be operating in Lybia, watch you through your smartphone camera, listen to you through your microphone or pilfer all your text messages.”, says Brewster.

“Underneath the disguise, is a customized version of SpyMax, commercial spyware that can be acquired online by anyone with an internet connection for free.”, adds Brewster

One scam appears to have a link to the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the ability to access a COVID-19 virus map by location. Beware!

coronavirus map updates

11. Fake Masks For Sale

This is the first scam that hit the world after the pandemic expanded, so we exposed it back in January. However, for those who don’t know it, the Coronavirus Face Masks Scam consists of a plethora of fake websites selling non-existent protective masks, for a very attractive price.

Similar to the face mask approach, criminals ‘sell’ other wonder products, such as hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies or air purfiers.

12. Bogus Testing Kits & Booking COVID-19 Vaccines

After U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered what they believe to be bogus test kits this week un various airports, officials are warning Americans to be aware of purchasing any home testing kits for COVID-19.

You cannot buy home test kits anywhere online or in-store. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is scamming you.

On the other hand, there have been reports exposing fake calls inviting recipients to book Coronavirus vaccines. Hang up, there is no such a thing for the time being.

13. Breaking the Coronavirus Quarantine

Social distancing is very important today, but don’t get fooled by this one. A new text message is circulating today informing the recipients that they have been seen breaking the quarantine. The message seems to come from the Government and even offers a link that starts with: www.gov.us. The content of the message is “We would like to inform you that you have been recorded as leaving your home on 3 occasions yesterday. A fine of $27 has been added to your gov.us account. For further information, please visit: https://www.gov.us/coronavirus/penalty-payment/tracking“.

Well, you can rest assured this is a scam. The crookes hyperlinked their own website with the federal domain. Delete.

Here is additional information and types of fraud related to the crisis:

Stimulus Checks

This is the most common Coronavirus scam these days, and we sure you’ve heard about it in the news or social media. Just in case you didn’t, scammers contact you via a text message email saying you are entitled to a new stimulus check.

The only thing you have to do is to provide all the personal information, from social security number to your date of birth and address. Scammers will even ask for your bank account to send you a “direct deposit of your stimulus check.” Only apply or check the official status of your application through your Government’s website.

Fake COVID-19 Apps 

Hackers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by releasing dangerous malware disguised as COVID-19 tracking apps. The worse is CovidLock, which locks the phone and displays a message demanding that the user pay a sum of money to unlock it.. All apps should be downloaded directly from Google Play or the Apple Store.

Any apps that claim to track the outbreak from third-party websites are likely fake and full of malware.

Dangerous Facebook Links

As Facebook is the largest social media platform to spread the COVID-19 news, there is no surprise that cybercrooks use it to make victims as well. They send the readers to websites that look official and offer all kinds of products that are not, in any way, secure. According to Forbes, here is a list with domain names that were flagged as dangerous:

coronavirusstatus[.]space

coronavirus-map[.]com

blogcoronacl.canalcero[.]digital

coronavirus[.]zone

coronavirus-realtime[.]com

coronavirus[.]app

bgvfr.coronavirusaware[.]xyz

coronavirusaware[.]xyz

corona-virus[.]healthcare

survivecoronavirus[.]org

vaccine-coronavirus[.]com

coronavirus[.]cc

bestcoronavirusprotect[.]tk

coronavirusupdate[.]tk

On the other hand, don’t fall for clickbait headlines such as “Famous Actor Dies of Coronavirus.” If it sounds fake, it probably is. Don’t click on any suspicious-looking links. It’s probably malware.

Schools and Universities Off-site Learning Threat

In addition to all the above-mentioned scams, there is another one in the making. Most employers have already been instructed to send their teams home for work. Similar precautions are in place for most university and college students, who are now attending classes and completing assignments remotely.

If you receive any suspicious-looking information from an unfamiliar source, don’t open any attachments. Contact your HR department or program coordinator to confirm. Otherwise, delete the email from your inbox immediately.

Coronavirus Scams: How to Avoid

We must be looking out for one another, especially our elderly relatives who may not be as familiar with the Internet or are looking for a few extra dollars from the government. Don’t let them fall victim to any of the scams listed above. 

Remember, NEVER give out your personal information to ANYONE, whether it’s on the telephone, an unfamiliar website, or someone at the front door. Furthermore, never click on a link or download a file unless you are familiar with the product and its provider. Delete any email that includes generic greetings or obvious spelling and grammar mistakes, and be suspicious of emails that claim you have to “act now” or “act immediately.”

If you’re concerned about your devices being hacked or subject to malware, install an anti-virus/malware program with phishing protection.

Other COVID-19 Resources

Always check out and access legitimate sources of information on COVID-19 scams and resources.  Here are 3 organizations that you should keep an eye on:

World Health Organization. WHO provides a range of information, including how to protect yourself, travel advice, and answers to common questions.

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC website includes the most current information about the coronavirus. Here’s a partial list of topics covered: how the coronavirus spreads, symptoms, prevention and treatment, travel updates, global locations with COVID-19 as well as information for communities, schools, and businesses.

National Institutes of Health. NIH provides updated information and guidance about the coronavirus. It includes information from other government organizations.

What a Coronavirus Patient Goes Through

It is important these days to stay strong and help in any way we can. To understand what a person infected with Coronavirus goes through, watch the video below to see an on-camera interview with a patient who has been going through the COVID-19 ordeal: 

Coronavirus Scams: How To Report Them

Warn your family and friends about these 13 COVID-19 scams by sharing this article on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers and other suspicious activity online to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report To The FTC Here

How To Protect Yourself More

If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodic emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

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10 Comments

  1. David says:

    Something that we’ve heard happening in Europe and in other places around the world is people showing up dressed as sanitation workers, or as government officials. They ring your door and tell you that they need to inspect your house, and when you let them in they rob you.

  2. jean says:

    Here is what i got, a scammer who claims to be someone else, Ronnie chan. Here is the email:

    Hi,
    My name is Ronnie Chan Chi-chung. I’m a businsess man, and the founder of one of the largest private foundations in the world. This is an unprecedented time in our history. The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on the health of our loved ones, the businesses we rely upon, the health of the global
    economy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m on a mission to give it all away, as I believe in ‘giving while living.’ I have decided to donate reputable individuals worldwide to aid in fighting the spread. My team and I have selected you to receive this donation sum.

    Kindly acknowledge this message and I will get back to you with more details.

    Read more about me: https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1597576/ronnie-chan-philanthropist-taking-charity-through-roof

  3. Perry says:

    Here is what they say in their voicemails:
    Social Security Scam: Hello this is a call from the Social Security Administration. During these difficult times of the coronavirus, we regret to inform you that we have got an order to suspend your socials immediately within 24 hours due to suspicious and fraudulent activities found on your socials. We are contacting you as this case is critical and needs your urgent attention. To get more information about this case please call immediately on our department number 888-991-XXXX. I repeat 888-991-XXXX.

    Test Kit Phone Call Scam: The Coronavirus Response Act has made coronavirus testing more accessible immediately. If you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home, press 1. If you do not want your free testing, press 2.

    Delivery Scam: Dear customer, due to coronavirus outbreak, we deliver a wide range of sanitizers, handwash, toilet papers, and face masks at your doorstep to safeguard you and your family from coronavirus. No need to visit stores. Get delivery in 24 hours. To order press 1. For more knowledge and safety tips about coronavirus, press 2.

    Diabetic Test Kit Scam: If you are diabetic and using insulin, we can qualify you to get a free diabetic monitor and a complimentary testing kit for coronavirus. To learn more, please press 1, otherwise please press 2.

    HVAC for Coronavirus Phone Scam: Protect your loved ones from the coronavirus. For only $79 our highly trained technicians will do a full air duct cleaning and sanitation to make sure that the air you breathe is free of bacteria. So don’t hesitate, press 0 and have your duct system cleaned and sanitized now. Press 9 to be removed from this list.

    Student Loan Callback Scam: Hello this is an important message regarding the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on your student loans. As you may have already heard, President Trump invoked his power as commander-in-chief by declaring a national emergency due to the widespread impact of COVID-19. New measures will include waiving interest on your federal student loans until further notice. During this time our offices have continued to maintain full staffing levels and will continue to do so until further notice. For more information on how these new measures will impact your future payment obligations, call us back today at 855-264-XXXX before 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

  4. Peter says:

    I just got this email today:

    FIGHT AGAINST CORONA VIRUS CONTINUE.YOUR EMAIL ACCOUNT HAS SELECTED FOR A DONATION OF ($5,500,000.00.) FIVE MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATE DOLLARS.FOR SUPPLIES OF FOOD ITEMS TO YOUR COMMUNITY AS FIGHT AGAINST PANDEMIC CONVID 19 CONTINUES.PLEASE CONTACT MR.LUKE GENE VIA EMAIL:( LUKEGENE2@GMAIL.COM ).FOR IMMEDIATE CLAIM.

    REGARD
    SANTA NONA. SECRETARY
    Tata Group India Branch
    24, Homi Modi Street, Fort, Mumbai – 400001, Opposite Central Bank Of India (Map)

  5. Mandatory COVID-19 says:

    Beware of a new one, mandatory coronavirus test. You get a text message that looks like it comes from federal government. It tells you that you must take a “mandatory online COVID-19 test” and has a link to a website. Obviously, there is no online test for coronavirus. Delete.

  6. Yvonne says:

    Here is an email i received this morning, beware:

    Good morning, My name is Mrs Ashley Coleman, a contractor Researcher at A Z Pharmaceutical Company here in United kingdom,Actually, my company is presently in need of a particular raw material ( OILGAL SEED) for urgent manufacture of cancer treatment and for other cancer related medication, also use for production of animal vaccine. but we can not connect or tell where about of our former supplier.
    We have been searching for a new supplier since last year but all effort had proven null. So my primary objective is to present a business minded someone as the original vendor. For this reason, I am seeking to form a strategic partnerships with you to handle this business as the seller if you can invest your money to make the outright purchase of the required product from the original vendor and resell to our company at a higher rate so as to maintain the previous rate my company was purchasing from the old supplier with out allowing both parties to exchange contacts so as to protect our future transactions.
    Regarding what will be my share, well, since you are the sponsor you will surely have a major percentage in profit sharing. After deduction of your total investment amount which shall include transportation etc, i will appreciate if net-profit would be shared between us in the ratio of 70% for you and 30% for me so that all interests be harmonized.
    kindly contact me if you are interested to proceed, thank you.
    Regards,
    Ashley Coleman

  7. Yvonne says:

    Here is the email i received, beware!

    Dear I write to inform you that the COVID-19 pandemic payment scheme going on now has made the Federal Reserve Bank to waive some policies that maybe holding your payments or stopping the completion of your uncompleted delayed transaction.

    After due consultation the Government have agreed to pay One hundred and seventy five million Americans in the COVID-19 Payment scheme and have mapped out about Two trillion United States Dollars to enable us meet the said target.

    However we also noticed that thousands of Americans have uncompleted transaction from around the world due to strict policies and if these uncompleted transactions are released it will go a long way to reduce Americans that will include in the above mentioned COVID-19 payment scheme.

    For each of these individuals a part payment of us50,000 (Fifty thousand United States Dollars) will be released and since you are one of them, you are directed to contact the Payment Cordinator immediately with your ID to apply for and claim your payment today.

    Contact: Dr. Ben Duke
    Email: benduke111@hotmail.com

    As advised by the World Health Organization, we advise that you continue to wash your hands regularly and stay safe at home.

    Regards

    Mrs. Linds Johnson
    Budget & Planning/Finance
    United States

  8. killian says:

    beware of this phone number! (416) 477-0053!

  9. Beware of UV BOX says:

    theuvbox.com says it sells equipment to sanitize phones and other small items using their uv box. The site is hosted by shopify.com and is on Facebook and Instagram. Domain Whois info is privacy protected. You choose an item to buy, pay for it, receive emails confirming the purchase and welcoming you to the family and then subsequent shipping info with a tracking number. That number clicks to a UK based shipping site which then says the number isn’t in their system and the company likely changed it from their end. The phone number on uvbox page is answered by voicemail and there is no option to leave a message or speak to Customer Service even though they claim to be open 24/7. The emails I send are never responded to (and I have sent at least 6).

  10. Julian Sunshine LOL says:

    Here is what i received today:

    To whom it may concern.

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    As the corona-virus pandemic accelerates, claiming thousands of lives each day, those at greatest risk include some 12 million children, women and men uprooted by war and persecution among them. More than three quarters of whom live in developing countries in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. With weak health systems, some of those countries are already facing humanitarian crises and Lost of jobs because of Covid-19.

    The United Nations and humanitarian partners (UNHP), Agency, is today brought out US$855 million for its urgent push to curb the risk and help to impact on COVID-19 outbreaks in these vulnerable communities, as part of a wider UN Global Humanitarian Response support plan to all the listed names that qualifies for US$400,000.00 [Four Hundred Thousand United State Dollars] compensation.

    To your understanding this is to inform you that your (US$400,000.00) outstanding payment has been approv ed and ready to be paid through Bank to Bank Transfer as the bank-indicated.

    According to the authorized paying bank that you have been reported to be sick and hospitalized for about three weeks on isolation said by your representative partner Ms. Monica Broom (explained) So she forwarded the below account for the transfer of Partition payment of US$400,000.00 of your approved fund as instructed by you with power of attorney tendered to us. Please Verify these account information first !!

    BANK : HSBC BANK USA.
    NAME: MONICA BROOM JR
    452 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK NY 10018-2706
    SWIFT CODE; MRMDUS 33
    CREDIT TO; FINANCIAL BANK SWIFT CODE; FIBBBJBJ
    ACCOUNT NO; 55139678
    BENF; EXPRESS CASH.

    Please I will require you to get back to this office with your decision in regard to Ms. Monica Broom that came for your fund. We want to reconfirm an authorization remittance of your fund into the above account.

    Contact me to my direct email for quick response; email : uncovidfund@gmail.com

    Thanks,

    Mrs. Julian Sunshine
    Tel: [347] 762-3023

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