Fraudsters are actively taking advantage of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Three cities in the UK, Manchester, Pembrokeshire, and Norfolk, have already issued scam alerts against new schemes.
In this new fraud, groups of anonymous are pretending to be official organizations like the Center for Disease Control or Prevention or the World Health Organization (WHO) and offering users a list of infected people in their neighbourhood in order to “protect” them. In exchange, they ask to make a bitcoin donation as if to battle COVID-19 pandemic or steal their credentials.
The other scheme suggests scammers pretending to be Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and offering tax refunds allegedly to minimize losses during the coronavirus outbreak. Those who are caught by the offer are redirected to fake websites which also steal credentials.
Previously, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a warning, advising people to refrain from investing in any COVID-19 related project, as coinidol.com, a world blockchain news outlet reported.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has detected over 21 scam projects related to coronavirus since February 2020. Action Fraud, a UK fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, stated that March 2020 has seen a 400% increase of fraudulent schemes and projects.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in domain names using the words “coronavirus” or “COVID-19”, with many of these websites being at least suspicious. It seems the number of people wishing to make profit from this disease is growing day today. Earlier in March, a Twitter user detected fraudsters pretending to be the WHO that accept bitcoin donations to buy medicines, masks and lung ventilation equipment.
The situation seems sad enough as there are really reliable and honest projects that actually want to help to halt the COVID-19 spread. For instance, Dutch Red Cross accepts bitcoin donations using the BitPay platform as an intermediary. However, many people would think twice before donating to any such project and risking their money in front of the possible economic crisis.