Fraudsters exploit concerns by claiming to offer virus-related information or promising stimulus checks.
Cybercriminals are capitalizing on the spread of COVID-19 with new phishing emails that pretend to offer information about the virus or request money or data from concerned victims.
The FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) issued an alert late last week to warn people of fake emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other healthcare organizations, pretending to share information about the virus. Officials advise not to open attachments or click links in these emails, and to be wary of websites and apps that claim to track COVID-19 cases. Criminals are using such websites to infect and lock computers.
Some of these emails ask victims to verify personal data so they can receive an economic stimulus check from the government, the FBI says. It emphasizes that while these checks have been mentioned in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending out unsolicited emails asking for private information. Other phishing campaigns may mention charity contributions, airline carrier refunds, fake cures and vaccines, and fake COVID-19 testing kits, officials note.
People are also urged to be on alert for attackers selling products that aim to prevent or treat COVID-19, as well as counterfeit sanitizing products and personal protective equipment (PPE). More information on PPE can be found via the CDC, FDA, and EPA.
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