Creative cyber swindlers take advantage of coronavirus confusion by phishing firms

Government coronavirus support schemes have become the subject of creative copies by cybercriminals

The U.K. Government has seen more than 45 coronavirus-related scams so far while the U.S. is rolling out advice to protect citizens from scams


Swindlers are taking advantage of coronavirus confusion and government support programs to trick taxpayers into giving up their financial information in both America and the U.K..

The U.K. government’s tax department, HMRC, has found more than 54 coronavirus-related scams so far which come by text, email, or phone. It has had 227 websites associated with the scams taken down.

Meanwhile, cybersecurity firm Mimecast found over 550 websites impersonating the IRS as millions of Americans await stimulus checks from the Treasury in the coming weeks. The U.S. Secret Service on Monday launched the ‘Know Your U.S. Treasury Check Campaign’ to protect potential victims.

Read:Coronavirus-related crimes are on the rise

The U.S. is rolling out multiple lines of coronavirus support, prompting the FBI and Secret Service to offer advice on how to avoid opportunistic scammers including avoiding emails, especially with links and attachments, from unrecognized senders.

“Several of the scams mimic government messages such as ‘Stay at home’ and ‘Stay home, stay safe’, as a way of appearing authentic and unthreatening,” said an HMRC spokesperson.

Mimecast on Monday detected an email campaign preying on applicants to the U.K. government’s job retention scheme. At least 840 victims were sent an email urging them to apply for the financial support, which led to a faked page designed to steal personal and financial data.

Read:You want your stimulus check, and so do scammers — 5 red flags to watch out for

“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, we have seen a number of different scams that play on the fear and confusion caused by the pandemic. Cybercriminals are clever and continue to use stories in the media to latch on to and link their scams to,” said Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at the company.

It says globally that threat activity online has increased by 33.5% since January and the number of clicks on blocked URL’s is up more than 55%.

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