NOTICE: Watch out for Coronavirus scams
March 26, 2020 update: See Safe Computing: Coronavirus Scams for up-to-date information about emerging scams.
March 11, 2020. The information below was sent to U-M IT groups via email on March 11.
Scammers are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus. Scams to beware of include:
- Promotion of products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure the coronavirus. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)—online or in stores."
- Requests for money for fraudulent charities. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. See the FTC's How to donate wisely and avoid charity scams.
- Misinformation. Beware of emails and social media postings that claim to be from experts. For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Phishing. The U.S. Secret Service is reporting a number of phishing scams related to the virus. People may receive a phishing email claiming to be from a medical/health organization that links to fraudulent sites where people are asked to enter their email, password, and other identity information. The attachments contain malware. Learn about phishing on Safe Computing at Phishing & Suspicious Email.
3/12/20 Update: Additional Scams
- COVID-19 tracking maps with malware. Attackers are circulating links to malicious websites disguised as COVID-19 maps, either on social media or through misleading emails. Opening one these sites prompts the user to install an applet that infects their device with malware that steals data such as login credentials and banking information. Stick to verified COVID-19 tracking maps and double-check the URL of linked websites before clicking.
U-M resources and information can be found on the university’s 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 information page.
- Secret Service warns of scams, disinformation campaigns around spread of coronavirus (ABC News, 3/10/20)
- UNICEF warns of scam coronavirus messages circulating through social media (ABC News, 3/10/20)
- Coronavirus Scams: What the FTC is Doing (Federal Trade Commission)
- FTC & FDA: Warnings sent to sellers of scam Coronavirus treatments (FTC, 3/9/20)
- Coronavirus Scams Spread as Fraudsters Follow the Headlines (AARP, 3/9/20)
- Email scammers are taking advantage of coronavirus fears to impersonate health officials and trick people into giving up personal information (Business Insider, 3/9/20)
- Secret Service Issues COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Phishing Alert (U.S. Secret Service, 3/9/20)
- Here's how to avoid falling for coronavirus scams (CNN Health, 3/8/20)
- Coronavirus: 6 scams to watch out for (Yahoo Finance, 3/8/20)
- Beware of criminals pretending to be WHO (World Health Organization)
- Coronavirus fraud: UK victims lose 800,000 pounds in scams (Reuters, 3/6/20)
3/12/20 Update: Additional References
- Warning: You Must Not Download This Dangerous Coronavirus Map (Forbes, 3/11/20)
- Hackers are using these fake coronavirus maps to give people malware (Business Insider, 3/12/20)
3/18/20 Update: Additional References
- Online scammers target vulnerable Internet users during coronavirus outbreak (ABC News, 3/18/20)
- Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation to sow panic in West, EU document says (Reuters, 3/18/20)
- The Internet is drowning in COVID-19-related malware and phishing scams (ArsTechnica, 3/16/20)