March 13, 2020
Friends of Pondera, with “coronavirus” the number one searched subject matter in the world, it is not a surprise that bad actors are exploiting this for gain. In the interest of continued vigilance against hackers, phishing, and security breaches, here are some of the top scams related to the Coronavirus. The Secret Service, CDC, FTC, and FDA have been warning about:
- Phishing: Phishing emails that appear to be from legitimate medical or health organizations (including the CDC and WHO) with “important information” or “latest updates” on the virus spread, status, or additional preventative guidelines as attachments (all malware). The attachment or link in the body can open a web page with a request to enter your email and password credentials. There are also a collection of sensational “news” phishing emails related to the Coronavirus that try to bait you to click on a phishing link.
- In-Person Social Engineering: Individuals who pretend to be from a medical/health organization or CDC knock on your door and request health information, personal information, or credentials belonging to you as part of a study or collection of information.
- Social media donations: Bad actors exploit the charitable spirit in times like this by creating charitable organizations and building a social media face to dupe people to contribute.
- Store portals: Sellers open e-commerce sites for medical equipment and sanitizing accessories – they take advantage of low supplies of medical and sanitization supplies used to prevent or protect against the virus. You order the items, you never get any of it, and the store is closed up in the interim and runs with your money.
- Unapproved and misbranded products: Products claim to treat or prevent the virus. These can include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver as examples. The FDA and FTC recently warned about these companies: Vital Silver, Aromatherapy Ltd., N-ergetics, GuruNanda LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and the Jim Bakker Show. Our CEO, Jon Coss, wrote a blog about this that you can read here.
- Investment opportunities: Bad actors pretend to be investment advisors and prey on the volatility of the stock market and the plummeting of retirement funds to solicit “investment opportunities” that guarantee a positive short-term return. These normally involve high sales pressure tactics.
In summary, continue to trust your training and logic and avoid emotional (reactive) thinking. Always pursue your information about world and local events by going directly to highly reputable legitimate sites and not by clicking a link in an email (even from someone you know). Be very suspicious about great deals available in stores that you have never heard of before – and stick with reputable sellers on Amazon and other marketplaces. Anytime you sense an urgency to act/click/donate/invest, stop and think before you do.