Category: Coronavirus

The Puppies and Kittens Scam

There have always been scams involving the sale of puppies and kittens but currently there are more, due to the social distancing rules that mean prospective buyers cannot visit to view the kittens or puppies and scammers are taking advantage of this.

The scammers offer animals for sale and you pay a deposit, but the animals are never delivered.

It’s always better to either wait until it is possible to view the animals or for someone on your behalf to view the animals but in current circumstances that is not always possible.

If you do choose to buy an animal seen only by photograph or recorded video, then take whatever steps you can to ensure the seller is genuine and that your payment is protected.

  • Insist on a Live view of the animal e.g. using Facebook Live or Zoom or similar video conferencing services
  • Verify the track record of the seller
  • Select a seller close to your location
  • Verify that payment details for the seller match the company name and address
  • Do not make full payment until the animal has been received and is what you expect

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Coronavirus Fake APPS

With the Covid-19 outbreak, there are new APPS that seem to be useful – hand washing guides, latest news and statistics, virus trackers etc. Most of these are well intentioned but scammers create their own APPS that look similar but have malicious intent.

APPS on the official download sites are generally very safe as APPLE and Google and Microsoft verify new APPS, but there are many sites where you can download APPS that are not so safe.

Recently, Check Point reported more than 30,00 new Covid-19-related domains were registered recently of which 0.4% (131) were malicious and 9% (2,777) were suspicious and under investigation. This means over 51,000 Covid-19-related domains in total have been registered in 2020 so far. The majority of these websites are benign of course but some enable download of dangerous APPS.

Malicious APPS

ThreatLabZ have discovered an app which claims it can notify you when anyone infected with the virus is nearby. However, the app contains dangerous malware that allows it to read your contacts and even send text messages.

Once the app is installed, it asks the user to click a button that leads to a web site selling masks, but in fact the app collects your contacts, then sends them all a text message with a download link, in an effort to spread itself to more users.

Check Point Research has identified malicious applications, masquerading as innocuous Covid-19 apps, that are designed to take control of Android devices. Once the malicious application is installed, a hacker takes intrusive control of the device, accessing the owner’s calls, SMS, calendar, files, contacts, microphone and camera.

An Android app called “COVID19 Tracker” is an example of ransomware that hides itself as a real-time Covid-19 map tracker.

If a user grants the app access to certain phone settings, the ransomware is enabled and locks the user out of their phone unless they pay $100 in bitcoin to the hackers within 48 hours.

Surveillance APPS

Some governments use surveillance APPS and their population have to use them or else, but thankfully most developed countries don’t do this.

However, scammers will.

Security company Lookout discovered an Android app called “corona live 1.1,” which pretends to be the real “corona live” app and uses the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 tracking data – which a legitimate resource for tracking infection rates, death counts and recovery rates around the world.

People using the app thought they were keeping an eye on the pandemic, but the malicious app was actually tracking them and getting access to the device’s photos, videos, location and camera.

Only download apps directly from the Apple Store, or Android Play Store or Microsoft store as these are safety checked before being made available.

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Coronavirus Health Scams

Criminals are taking advantage of the Coronavirus pandemic – spreading fear and misinformation, conning people into paying fines that are false, to buying protective equipment that doesn’t exist, donating to fake charities and so on.

These difficult days bring out the best in some people but also the worst in scumbags who just want to profit at other people’s expense.

These are the most common such scams.

Personal Protective Equipment

Almost every country is short of protective equipment – for their health services, social care works and others who encounter Coronavirus. So, the scammers offer such equipment. In most cases they don’t have any and you pay and receive nothing. In other cases, they have poor quality equipment but charge a very high price for it. Despite the desperate need, do not buy from unaccredited sources as you are likely to end up in a worse situation that when you started.

Fake Charities

There are lots of emails, text messages, phone calls and social media posts claiming to be from charities seeking to help research into a vaccine or to help those affected by Coronavirus or to buy protective equipment for health workers. Some real charities are taking these positive actions but almost all such unsolicited communications are from scammers. They keep your money and no-one else benefits.

Fake offers of Payments By Government

Most governments now have schemes in place to help business and citizens. Some scammers are targeting businesses – trying to get confidential information by claiming to be government bodies ready to make payments.

Fake Fines

Emails and texts mostly but also telephone calls telling people they have been fined and must pay up immediately. These are always fake – no government body demands immediate payment by Bitcoin, gift card etc. as the scammers do.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

WHO is a key organisation in the fight against Coronavirus and many scammers are pushing out fake information, fake vaccines, fake Coronavirus test kits etc. claiming to be from WHO.

These are all fake as WHO only works at government level.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Coronavirus Scams Fake Charities

Fake charities try to take advantage of your generosity and compassion for people in need. These criminals steal your money by posing as genuine charities – they keep your money and that also damages real charities who lose out on your donation.

Scammers are reusing old fake charity messages, just changing the words to suit fears over Coronavirus.

Scammers can pretend to be collection agents for charities or as fundraisers – sometimes of reputable charities and other times of ones they invent.

For Coronavirus, the most common approaches are pretending to be a charity researching medicine to treat the virus or as a research charity seeking to create a vaccine or more recently as a supplier of protective equipment for the health service.

People who receive the coronavirus-themed emails, texts and calls are usually asked to send Bitcoins to the senders, or sometimes to pay by money transfer service such as Money Transfer or to buy iTunes gift cards and tell them the card numbers.

If you receive such messages, do not give any money without checking the charity and the person are genuine. It’s better to approach a charity yourself than rely on emails, texts etc. from people you don’t know.

Legitimate charities are registered – you can check a registration at  http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/ShowCharity/RegisterOfCharities/AdvancedSearch.aspx

Never send money or give personal information, credit card details or online account details to anyone you don’t know or trust.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Coronavirus Scams Fake Fines

Criminals have been using the fake fine scam for a long time, warning people they have to pay a fine to the tax office or DVLC, the Police or FBI  etc.

This latest version, that is all too common now, is based on Coronavirus.

Text messages or phone calls tell people their movements have ben observed by tracking their mobile phone or on town centre CCTV or by plain clothes officers and they now must pay a fine e.g. £95 to the Health department.

These are all fake – the Police and other branches of the state do not issue such fines by text message or phone call.

Plus, the method of payment chosen by the scammers is usually Bitcoin or money transfer via Western Union, Moneygram etc. or by buying gift cards and reading out the card number on the phone.

It should be obvious to anyone that such payment methods are not used by official bodies – but by scammers, but some people are sufficiently frightened that they pay, even when unsure if it is a real fine.

Never pay such a fine and if you are really unsure, then contact the organisation directly (not via links or phone numbers in an email)

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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Coronavirus Scams Doorstepping

Many legitimate businesses sell products door-to-door (e,g, windows, solar panels, cleaning products, home maintenance, tree surgeons etc.). Plus there are utility company agents wanting to read your meters, charity collectors etc. But in these days of Coronavirus there should not be anyone knocking at your door except for delivery people – assuming you have ordered goods online.

However, some scammers use the door-to-door approach, usually targeting elderly people.

The con artists knock on your door claiming to be from the NHS or local GP surgeries offering tests for Covid-19. Or maybe they offer protective equipment at exorbitant prices or they want to check your temperature and charge for the service or they offer a vaccine at a price.

There are no such initiatives being run, there is no vaccine yet and they definitely should not be calling at anyone’s door. These callers are simply thieves trying to get your confidential details or over charge you and/or steal from your home.

If someone knocks at your front door selling anything or offering a service at a price, tell them to go away and if they don’t then call the Police.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

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