Financial fraudsters are seeing the COVID-19 pandemic as the perfect opportunity to strike. Their intent is to capitalise on the fears of businesses and clients by manipulating them into sharing sensitive information. Businesses and clients should be on the lookout.
The Thomson Reuters Special Services Team in the United States recently hosted a webinar on the emergence of COVID-19 specific fraud schemes. This is of great concern to organisations and individuals, where identities can be stolen from the click of the mouse. With similar fraudulent tactics observed in Australia and New Zealand, COVID-19 Disaster Fraud Schemes is a must-see for compliance professionals in the region.
The common exploits of scammers
The webinar presentation highlights how scammers are plotting against unsuspecting businesses and individuals. Through triggering the fears and uncertainty many have at this difficult time, the following attacks has been observed in the United States:
- Fake medical treatments: Bogus virus cures, fake testing kits and goods and services insincerely marketed in the context of treating or preventing COVID-19 are doing the rounds.
- Phishing attempts: Where an individual is enticed to click on a link which releases sensitive information to the cyber criminal.
- Robocalls: Fraudsters also commonly attempt to extract personal information from their unsuspecting victims through automated phone calls.
- Charity and fundraising scams: Rife during the pandemic, criminals are known to be mimicking charities in order to gain funds via cash donation, gift cards or money transfers.
Update on fraudulent activity in Australia and New Zealand
Due to increased remote working environments, it is easy for fraudulent activity to fester. Additionally, cyber crime does not necessarily discriminate between countries, due to its heavy online presence. Here are some local updates on financial crime that agencies in Australia and New Zealand have reported.
Scamwatch, the Australian scam watchdog, has received over a thousand coronavirus-related scam reports since the outbreak. Common scams being reported include phishing for personal information, online shopping and superannuation scams. As the global health crisis continues, fraudulent schemers are even impersonating business suppliers for personal gain.
New Zealand is not immune to financial criminals during the time of COVID-19. The Serious Fraud Office is working with the government to help prevent COVID-19 relief funds from being defrauded. The organisation’s Director, Julie Read said:
“We are aware from our international counterparts that other countries have seen a significant rise in fraudulent activity generally as a result of COVID-19. This has reflected both the opportunistic targeting of those in need and the redeployment of established criminal activity to defraud government relief programmes. There is no reason to believe that New Zealand would be any different in this regard.”
CERT NZ, a major cyber crime organisation, has noted that there are four main types of scams circulating throughout the pandemic crisis. These include:
- Webcam extortion emails
- Fake coronavirus maps
- Text message scams
- Email phishing scams
For more information on disaster fraud schemes, access our Thomson Reuters webinar. To watch the program, fill out the registration form on this page and you will be taken to the webcast.
Thomson Reuters Legal is committed to supporting you and your business with complimentary resources to help navigate this complicated and ever-changing environment. As the Coronavirus continues to spread globally, the Thomson Reuters COVID-19 APAC hub will be continually updated.