In the UK, fraudsters, taking advantage of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, have a solution to battle COVID-19 pandemic. They offer people a list of allegedly infected people in their neighborhood with a promise to “protect” them from coming into contact with the infected. People who want to get such a list are asked to make a bitcoin donation. Fraudsters even try to steal credentials of such people.
There’s been a 400% rise in scammer activity related to COVID-19 in March according to Action Fraud, a UK fraud and cybercrime reporting center fighting fraud in the UK.
Three cities in the UK — Manchester, Pembrokeshire, and Norfolk — have issued scam alerts against these fraud schemes.
The majority of the reports are online shopping scams in which people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitizers, and other products, which have never arrived.
In other schemes scammers pretend to be Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and offer tax refunds allegedly to minimize losses during the coronavirus outbreak. People are redirected to fake websites and risk their credentials stolen.
Earlier, the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has detected at least 21 scam projects related to coronavirus since February 2020.
Last month, a Twitter user reported fraudsters who pretended to be the WHO and asked for bitcoin donations to buy medicines, masks, and lung ventilation equipment for non-existing patients.
Such fraud activity is hampering some real efforts that actually try to impede the COVID-19 spread, as there are really reliable and honest projects. For instance, Italian Red Cross accepts bitcoin donations; however, some potential donors would think twice before donating to any such project online and risk losing their money in the view of the possible economic crisis.
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