As headlines buzz with the latest news and developments on the Coronavirus outbreak, scammers and threat actors are piggybacking on the fears of consumers everywhere.
They are becoming more resourceful in their schemes and are constantly monitoring the web, preying on our fears and relying on the fact that we’ve let down our guard while we watch world events.
The fact that the physical world is slowly quarantining itself does not mean the dangers of the cyber world are fading. It’s tough to juggle both your work and your family’s safety, so in an effort to make your online interactions safer, we’ve listed a few of the tricks scammers might deploy during this period.
Looking to buy a mask that offers up to 99.99% percent protection against Coronavirus? Ran out of hand sanitizer and you’re looking to buy a whole lot more but can’t find any? These are the types of offers we get either through email or bogus ads.
While these websites may seem legitimate, as they abuse popular logos, they’re mostly just trying to draw on your fear of a COVID-19 infection. The products are not real, nor are those online vendors. They are just scammers interested in getting your credit card details or even getting you to purchase and pay with Bitcoin (which in itself should raise suspicion).
Exploiting Supply Shortage
While medical supplies may be scarce and in constant demand in the age of the Coronavirus, don’t be fooled by these websites.
In the example above, the “Company specializes in providing a wide range of medical equipment” and seems to be “well stocked with items that are highly on demand, due to COVID-19 virus.” It seems a bit strange that it basically only offers four products on its webpage. If that weren’t a warning sign, the fact that it only has about eight products in their catalog is dodgy at best.
While payment options seem to include both PayPal and direct credit card, it’s probably the credit card details the scammers are mostly after, as they provide the best return on investment.
The “Amazing Discount” Routine
Other scams simply entice by offering discounts of 20% (or more) on Coronavirus masks and claim to have already sold more than 1 million worldwide. As a bonus, shipping claims to be free “for the next 2 days only” and payment is “secured and trusted”.
While the website may not be forcing you to pay or and it may not be stealing any information from you without your consent, purchasing those medical supplies will likely result in receiving squat while giving away your credit card data.
Fear of Being Infected? Pick a Mask, Pay with Bitcoin
Other alleged online vendors go the extra mile and even pack a wide variety of masks, each with different colors, features, and even properties. From procedure masks to surgical masks and isolation masks, they’re all in stock, they’re all affordable, and you can purchase them in Bitcoin.
Sure, it’s not fishy at all that when no one can find masks these guys are in full stock and offer to accept Bitcoin when no one else can find masks anywhere (sense the sarcasm). Confused as to what Bitcoin is and how to get it? Instructions are handed out right before you submit your order so the purchase can go along smoothly.
Fear of Missing Out? Get it now, before it expires!
Last, but not least, now that you know from where you can get sanitizer and masks at reasonable prices, how about getting that infrared thermometer? Although the website may be in French, shipping doesn’t seem to be a problem for them as they deliver anywhere in the world, provided you add your credit card details. And don’t forget to hurry with your order, because you only have ONE HOUR before the 40% discount expires (or before you hit refresh on the webpage).
Of course they’re not the most ingenious scams nor the most sophisticated, but when your back is against the wall, when the threat of infection from Coronavirus is real, when medical stocks are low and you can’t find a single mask or sanitizer, or when the discount simply sounds truly awesome, that’s when people make mistakes.
How to Protect Yourself?
If you’ve read up to here, you’re probably more skilled at spotting online scams than before. And that’s because it’s all about paying attention to details and knowing what’s real and what’s not.
Here’s what you need to do to stay away from these online scams:
- Read reviews about the vendor and listed products
- If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is
- Ideally, buy from online vendors you’ve previously done business with
If you want the best protection, use a security solution for all your devices — one that can protect you from phishing, fraud, and malware so that you can focus on what matters: keeping your family safe!