Coronavirus: UK forces hundreds of scam Covid-19 shops offline
The UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) said it eliminated over 2,000 online coronavirus scams last month.
NCSC said this includes 471 fake online stores that sell fraudulent virus-related items.
It coincides with the agency’s new online safety advice as part of a national awareness campaign.
NCSC has also launched an email reporting service, which the public can use to report any suspicious activity.
Numerous other malware and phishing sites have been removed, as well as nearly 900 prepay fraud schemes, in which a large sum of money is promised in exchange for a one-time payment.
There is growing concern that criminals hope to capitalize on the increased use of the Internet during the pandemic.
- Google blocks emails of 18m coronavirus scam per day
- MEPs summon a Chinese-owned company for security concerns
“Criminals are looking to take advantage of our increased use of email, video conferencing and other technologies to their advantage,” said security minister James Brokenshire.
“It is despicable that they are using the coronavirus epidemic as cover to try to scam and steal.”
The public is advised to forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. An automated program will test the websites marked accordingly and block those suspected.
Joe Tidy, cyber security reporter
These scams almost always start with an email.
The NCSC’s suspicious email reporting service provides a way to report invalid messages. The problem is that recipients often don’t recognize them as such.
I have monitored coronavirus phishing emails since the outbreak.
Some are ridiculous: “Please send $ 250 of iTunes gift certificates for essential block supplies!”
But there are many others that are well designed and difficult to spot.
Fake emails are circulating that appear to come from the World Health Organization (WHO). They are written cleanly, have all the correct logos and signatures, and even appear to have been sent from a WHO email address. It’s all untrue though, and victims who download the accompanying “advisory document” can give hackers control of their finances.
NCSC states that the public must be highly suspicious. Do not download or click anything unless you are absolutely certain of the sender and if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Commander Karen Baxter, national leader for fraud with the City of London police, said the service was developed to help “empower the public” during a time of crisis.
“Law enforcement agencies are working closely with the government to ensure that the public and businesses are as well equipped as possible to combat online damage,” he said.
“The agents have already executed a series of warrants across the country to target and stop criminals who send emails and messages designed to steal your money.”
Social media giants promised last month to fight the spread of Covid-19 misinformation.
With the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) skyrocketing, an investigation of the news site Wired reported that the scammers were using LinkedIn to sell counterfeit products after being blocked by eBay and Amazon.
“People use LinkedIn to find customers, do business and build relationships,” Microsoft-owned social network told the publication.
“However, it is not absolutely acceptable, especially now, that someone uses their LinkedIn profile or a post on the platform to inappropriately promote the availability of personal protective equipment for sale.”
The firm said it was investigating the matter.