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Have you been victimized by one of the vicious Coronavirus email scams? During a scare as big as the Coronavirus, there is ample misinformation floating around. There are fake remedies, fake alerts, and even fake diagnoses at times. Hence, it is always a good idea to source the information you’re getting. Only pay attention to the official reports coming out of the public health organizations or government institutes. That being said, the Coronavirus has been around for many months now and many scams have originated from it. So, here is a list of the worst Coronavirus email scams out there.
The worst thing about coronavirus email scams is that they can spoof government organizations and public health institutes. Hence, it’s very important that you check the actual source of any information you’ve received. Check the website or official social media handles of organizations like the CDC, FTC or WHO. Don’t rely on any information you’ve received from an anonymous email sender.
Scammers can also set up fake websites that claim to offer cures and miracle treatments. They can also offer cheap testing kits, prophylactic items like face masks or gloves, which are in short supply. Popular and in-demand items can also be offered at extremely low prices.
Phony websites will also try to steal people’s cash and card details. Don’t go for ‘herbal solutions to the coronavirus’ or ‘miracle cures’, etc. If you get one of these coronavirus email scams in your inbox, ignore it.
There are so many online retail platforms, including Amazon, Walmart, AliExpress, Newegg, Overstock, etc. Taking advantage of those, unethical sellers can scam customers into buying miracle cures. Or worse, they can sell tainted, unsafe or expired products, including food and medicines. They may also offer rebates and return policies to reel you in. They obviously have no intention of honoring them.
Fake sellers can infiltrate online forums like Facebook groups or Reddit chats. They can also take over informal marketplaces to sell their products and demand payment through PayPal or Venmo, or any other app. They can even ask for payment through cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
Those that sell their products online, however, should be aware of coronavirus email scams like canceled payment scams. They can buy your product through the app and then cancel the payment before it’s processed. This is done days later and after the product has been shipped.
Social media users especially need to be aware of two specific scams. The first is the fundraising scam, which is for a supposed victim of the virus or a charity group. The call to action of such fake fundraising pages can be very convincing. They use stories and images of actual people and often use legitimate platforms like GoFundMe and Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
There is a helpful guide by AARP that can assist in weeding out fake charities. It’s worth taking a look at. Of course, it’s very important to keep in mind that there are genuine fundraising drives during the coronavirus. Legitimate ones shouldn’t be shunned. It’s just important to do your research before you commit your money. Hence, don’t assume every fundraiser to be one of the coronavirus email scams out there.
The second threat that you need to watch out for is investment scams. The SEC has warned the public recently that criminals will use social media to promote microcap stocks. They will claim to have a product or service that can cure or prevent the coronavirus. These are usually pump-and-dump schemes. If something as miraculous as a coronavirus cure is invented, it will be national or even global news. Hence, there’s no reason to invest your hard-earned money in this scheme.
There has been a lot of misinformation shared as the result of the coronavirus. Examples include a WhatsApp forward that suggests drinking water to keep the esophagus slippery. Other examples include miracle cures and therapies and can’t lose the investment, which can be sent through coronavirus email scams.
NewsGuard, a watchdog group, has launched a coronavirus misinformation tracking center. It recently put together a list of the worst offenders. One of them was a fake bulletin that displayed the logos of the Los Angeles County Public Health and CDC.
Misinformation has also led to a lot of conspiracy theories being thrown around. One involves the movie Contagion, which has become a streaming favorite since its plot mirrors the coronavirus pandemic. The baseless theory suggests that the coronavirus is a bioweapon designed by China.
All of these theories are originating from WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and even coronavirus email scams. The best defense against them is to look for official sources of information and not rely on any forwards.
This is the last thing that people would think of during a coronavirus scare. However, 2020 is an election year. Hence, voter suppression scams are going to be a part of coronavirus email scams.
Officials in the US are concerned that much like the 2016 US Presidential Election, intervention from Russia could manipulate results. This could include the suppression of voter turnout. The State Dept has identified nearly 2 million tweets promoting conspiracy theories. They show evidence of coordinated or inauthentic activity. This suggests the involvement of a foreign government.
Russia is a huge foreign power that could use its social media outreach to influence results. These can include bots, phishing, and coronavirus email scams. Misinformation could be pushed regarding the local infection rates and the risk of transmission. There could be misinformation regarding incidents near polling stations or fake alerts from public agencies.
If you only get your information from actual sources, you will be able to prevent yourself from being fooled. As a rule of thumb, any information that seems too good to be true, like a miracle cure, probably isn’t. Hence, you should always check with the proper professionals before jumping to conclusions.