Updated: Jul 30, 2020
In many developing countries, poor and vulnerable people who are already struggling with the health impact of coronavirus pandemic are being targeted by online fraudsters who seek to take unfair advantage of them.
Here are some examples of ongoing COVID-19 related scams:
1. A phishing attack offering a household in a poor country a free Netflix subscription during COVID-19 lockdown if they click on a link.
2. Emails with suspicious links that bear the name or acronym of international organizations such as World Health Organization, United Nations or Development Banks.
3. Fraudsters have visited some homes in South Africa to “recall” coins and banknotes they claim to be contaminated with coronavirus and given in exchange, receipts for “uncontaminated” bank notes which they have not delivered till date.
4. There have been news of misleading cash offers and palliatives from governments of developing countries which are targeted at scamming already impoverished people.
5. Some criminals have also called COVID-19 victims claiming to be clinic and hospital staff, asking for payments in exchange for COVID-19 treatment.
6. Furthermore, people desperate to protect themselves from COVID-19 have fallen prey to offers of fake medical products such as masks, vaccines and testing kits usually sold to them at exorbitant prices.
7. Others include fraudulent online education applications, fake medical supply scams, counterfeit drugs, charity and investment scams.
Photo Credit: FTI Consulting
Here are steps people must take to protect themselves from COVID-19 related scams:
1. Caution: Be cautious of fraudulent emails promising huge financial gains or some gifts as a reward for clicking a link. Beware of fake online shops that use non-conventional payment methods such as fund transfer, gift cards, cryptocurrency or money orders. Ensure that you make payments only on secure websites.
2. Due Diligence: Carry out your due diligence before donating to any charity, crowdfunding campaigns and before making digital transfers of funds to any bank account you are not very confident about. Furthermore, do not transfer funds to personal bank account details for official transactions/businesses. Ask for the company’s bank account details and confirm them with your business partners before executing the fund transfer.
3. Stay informed: Always keep your ear to the ground with regards to investment scams and trends related to COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Be careful about what you share on social media: You must be careful about the type of personal information and photos of personal lifestyle you share on social media so that you will not be a target for fraudsters.
5. Install anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware software on your devices and ensure that they are up to date. Also update your operating system from the official website or sources provided by the software providers to ensure maximum protection.
6. Avoid using public file sharing websites or public WiFi and Hotspot. Connect to the internet using secure WiFi hotspots and broadband connections only.
7. Do not dismiss any breach of internet protocols and email privacy as they may indicate bigger problems.
8. In case of a cyberattack, investigate the root cause properly and tighten protection of your devices and internet connections to prevent future attacks.
Still Craving? Explore Financial Scams Rise as Coronavirus Hits Developing Countries and Covid-19 Frauds & Scams
Article Credit: Hephzber Ifunanya Nwoka