Coronavirus Pandemic — Bad actors stepping up their scam game

With global coronavirus outbreak, scammers and hackers are taking advantage of the crisis and putting efforts to exploit pandemic

Candice Spencer
4 min readMar 19, 2020

History testifies the fact whenever a crisis emerges, con artists are always ready to take advantage of the situation for their personal benefits. The same is happening with the corona outbreak where the scammers are seeking opportunities to exploit vulnerabilities. The corona pandemic is clutching the whole world causing fear and distress among people.

To date, around 181,300 confirmed cases of corona victims have been reported globally with 7,100 chronic deaths; China and Italy being the most affected country.

Such huge figures are causing panic among individuals resulting in a complete lockdown of businesses and countries. And bad boys out there are looking for ways to put them to good use to scam people. The officials are warning people to stay safe and vigilant regarding potential corona scams that may steal your information or bilk you out of money.

Hackers exploiting employees working from home

With a global crisis of corona pandemic, businesses are facing complete lockdown and as a result allowing their employees to work from home during the outbreak. This new working model is opening opportunities for hackers to exploit the employees. In fact, experts are warning employees regarding this new wave of cyberattacks.

The research by CISA dictates a detailed report indicating that the remote workers working outside the office environment open more vulnerable to cyberattacks because of the insecure communication networks. Employees working from home use public wifis and virtual private networks (VPNs) which leaves loopholes for intruders to exploit. In fact, CISA issued some recommendations for the businesses to be safe from cyberattacks during the corona outbreak.

Covid-19 Social media scams

Coronavirus pandemic is a sensitive topic these days and scammers are using it to target the victims on social media luring them into revealing their information and transfer funds to their accounts. Scammers are creating fake profiles and pages on social media to ask for funds. These hackers are using the images and stories of real people to trigger the emotional part of the brain and trick people into donating funds.

Such profiles seem legit and more importantly, the fundraising hackers are utilizing licit donation platforms to gain users’ trust and sympathy. This is not the first time, such charity scams have been there on social media for years now. Social media users need to be cautious and vigilant while scrolling through their newsfeed and don’t fall into the trap of individuals asking for donations.

Spoofed health organizations and phishing attacks

With the corona outbreak, hackers have started impersonating the government and health organizations to trick the individuals and carry out a variety of scams and frauds, from spam emails to account takeovers and financial frauds. Certain similar cases have been reported and even the FTC is warning individuals of the spoofed emails, calls and text messages from scammers pretending to be representatives of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

As the panic over the disease is increasing, consumers can expect a new wave of corona-related phishing emails and scams in the coming days.

Since January more than 4,000 coronavirus-themed websites domains have been introduced; some with the intention of running email campaigns to lure victims into clicking malicious links — states Checkpoint

These frauds are focused on people’s insecurity and emotional turmoil regarding the spread of coronavirus. Such scams can take place in various forms. For example, fake or spoofed health agencies warning about the corona infections and offering the vaccines and treatment offers to targets.

Fake face masks and hand sanitizer offers

Scammers are wasting no time in provoking feelings of compassions or playing with people’s fears. With the preventive instructions from health experts such as wearing a facemask and using hand sanitizers, the search volume of these terms is reaching an unprecedented level. Fraudsters are taking advantage of this high demand for these products and sending spam emails and messages to individuals offering them to face masks for protection from coronavirus.

These emails are just another way to target victims into revealing their personal and financial information unknowingly. It is not more different from phishing attacks that are carried with the intention of stealing user sensitive information, credentials, and money out of victims’ pockets.

Fraudulent face masks sellers deceived UK citizens costing them around £800,000 (US$1 million) in February alone — reported Sky News



Candice Spencer

Researcher, Fraud Preventer, Traveller, Reader, Writer, Thinker :)