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Cyber Scammers Pose Danger During Pandemic

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Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The dangers of the COVID-19 virus go beyond the physical, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, which issued a warning about cybercriminals trying to capitalize on peoples’ vulnerabilities during the global pandemic.

“Be suspicious,” soldiers were reminded in a Cybercrime Prevention Flyer issued March 19. The flyer strongly encourages soldiers to take extra steps in verifying unknown people or organizations who ask for personal information or seek to obtain money for goods or services.

“Be suspicious of anyone who approaches you or initiates contact regarding coronavirus,” the flyer says, adding that soldiers and their families should be leery of “anyone you don’t know or with whom you did not initiate a conversation who offers you advice on prevention, protection or recovery—especially if they ask for money.”

Because cybercriminals can use multiple approaches to commit fraud and put soldiers at risk, the flyer offers a list of things to watch out for, including:

  • People who claim to represent health entities in person or by email and offer a vaccination or a test. Calling it a “dangerous scam,” the CID explains that health departments don’t reach out like that. It urges soldiers to call local police immediately if this happens.
  • Unfamiliar people who claim to be from a bank or investment firm calling with alternative investment strategies.
  • Individuals demanding a fee and threatening action if you don’t pay, or someone claiming to be from a hospital where a loved one is being treated for the virus saying money is needed urgently before treatment can be given.
  • Calls from people claiming to be friends stuck in a foreign country, asking urgently for money for some required fee they need to get home.
  • Unsolicited emails offering advice or information in links or attachments that could contain malware.
  • Callers asking for personal information, bank account details or information about family members, or someone claiming to be from a computer support center who warns that your computer is infected with coronavirus. Your computer, the flyer says, cannot be infected by the coronavirus.

For information on the coronavirus—its progression, transmission, symptoms and treatment—soldiers are urged to check reputable websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. government’s coronaviruswebsite, your state, county or city health department, your local hospital, your primary care physician, the local free clinic or wherever you receive medical services.