Residents warned of coronavirus scams

Security authorities are warning about a rise in potential scams related to the novel coronavirus, with seniors particularly at risk.

The World Health Organization has warned of criminals pretending to be representatives of the international institution, attempting to steal financial resources or sensitive information from residents.

WHO has made clear that they will never ask for personal information through phone or email communications. Phishing scams, with malicious emails and potential viruses in attachments, are also on the rise with people imitating WHO personnel.

Closer to home, the U.S. Secret Service issued a warning earlier this month, warning of criminal opportunists hoping to take advantage of COVID-19 anxieties. They warned specifically about phishing emails and social engineering, where emails are made to resemble legitimate business or government entities.

Additionally, many large online marketplaces and retailers have had to actively fight back against scammers who hoard supplies and then attempt to price gouge consumers, or never deliver products at all.

INTERPOL, Europe’s police agency, cautioned consumers about purchasing medical supplies online during the crisis, noting the rise in fake sites and illegitimate product online.

“Criminals are exploiting the fear and uncertainty created by COVID-19 to prey on innocent citizens who are only looking to protect their health and that of their loved ones,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock in a statement.

Stock warned consumers to think twice before purchasing some of these supplies online.

“Anyone who is thinking of buying medical supplies online should take a moment and verify that you are in fact dealing with a legitimate, reputable company, otherwise your money could be lost to unscrupulous criminals.”