Coronavirus: beware the scammers
Published : Thursday, 13 February, 2020 at 9:39 PM Count : 219
Scammers have become craftier, taking advantage of fears surrounding the coronavirus crisis and setting up websites to sell bogus products or hiding behind trusted entities such as the World Health Organisation.
Covid-19, as the new coronavirus has been named, had claimed more than 1,000 lives and infected almost 50,000 as of Wednesday. Fears about its spread have prompted some countries to limit flights from China or to introduce quarantine measures, Times of Malta reports.
Fears have also led to opportunities for scammers. The latest scamming email to land in Times of Malta’s inbox is from an American doctor who allegedly works for or Medicine Sans Frontières in China.
“I am one of the doctors that MSF sent to China for the controlling of coronavirus. A Chinese politician contracted the virus and has asked me to find a private crude oil buyer who could buy crude oil from his oil well because he doesn't know if he will survive,” the email reads.
“I was able to connect with a customer who was able to buy several million dollars' worth of crude oil and he has asked me to get someone who will be able to share the money with the orphanage home and collect 30 percent of the money.”
If the government lays its hands on the money, he warns, the funds will be used for the politicians’ personal needs.
In order to avoid this from happening, ‘Dr Kevin Taylor’ asks the recipient to receive the funds and pass on the moneys to the orphanage.
“My contact with you is under a very legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law."
Dr Taylor encourages the recipient to follow a link to a genuine MSF website, but asks them to contact him on a personal email address to effect the transaction.
The email is a novel form of an email scam that has been doing the rounds for several years. The con works by getting users to contact the scammers, who then convince users to send them a small amount of money to ease the transfer of far larger sums.
Another email doing the rounds is purportedly sent from the WHO and plays on the coronavirus crisis’ fast-changing developments.
Under the global organisation’s logo, a ‘specialist Wuhan virus advisory’ asks the recipient to open a document on safety measures regarding the spread of coronavirus.
Once you click on the link, you are asked for your email address and password, and that is all it takes for the scammers to access your personal email.
How to keep scammers at bay
Ignore offers for vaccinations to prevent or treat coronavirus. If there is a medical breakthrough, you will probably hear about it first on the news, not from a salesperson.
When it comes to donations, do a bit of research or contact the beneficiaries directly. Be especially aware of 'investment opportunities’.
Watch out for emails claiming to be from experts. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization (WHO).