According to Finance Magnates, many people have received extortion emails directly from an unknown scammer, demanding the payment of $4,000 in cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, with the threat of infecting their family with the highly contagious coronavirus.
To make the emails scary for the potential victims, the criminals include publicly available personal information.
Going by the report made available by Sophos, an IT security company, the scammers also use the emails to impersonate the World Health Organization (WHO), demanding donations in digital currencies.
A principal research scientist at Sophos, Chester Wisniewski, said “First, Sophos noticed phishing attackers using the World Health Organization (WHO) as a lure. Next, numerous malware gangs began to disguise their malicious wares as COVID-19-themed documents. Now today, we are seeing cyber attackers impersonating WHO charities, this time the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.”
According to Chester, the emails look real but have no connection with WHO or any charitable organizations alike.
He said, “The tell-tale clue is the request for Bitcoin, rather than credit cards or other currency. Due to the ability to trace and stop real wire transfers and credit cards, criminals prefer to rely on crypto-currencies to attempt to preserve their anonymity and freedom and the Bitcoin payment request seen here is a sign that something isn’t right about this email.”
Aside from the emails, the attackers are also attempting to send malware into computers using COVID-19 themed documents.
The search activities related to coronavirus outbreak has drastically increased, due to the magnitude and the impact of the topic around the world. Scammers are also leveraging this to their advantage.
Conclusively, the public should be informed about these scamming tactics, so as not to fall victim of their desperations.