CASPER, Wyo. — The Casper Police Department is echoing sentiment from the U.S. Secret Service warning residents of scammers taking advantage of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
“Criminals are opportunists, and as seen in the past, any major news event becomes an opportunity for groups or individuals with malicious intentions,” the U.S. Secret Service said in a statement distributed by the Casper PD. “The Coronavirus is no different. In fact, the Coronavirus is a much more potent opportunity for enterprising criminals because it plays on one of the basest human conditions…fear. Fear can cause normally scrupulous individuals to let their guard down and fall victim to social engineering scams, phishing scams, non-delivery scams, auction fraud scams, etc.”
According to the Secret Service, numerous international sources from Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe are reporting a rise in Coronavirus scams, and a rise in the number of incidents in the United States is expected. Brief details of the associated Coronavirus scams being encountered are below:
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- Phishing Scams
- Social Engineering Scams
- Non-delivery Scams
The statements describe phishing scams as becoming ubiquitous through email communication and commerce.
“Cyber criminals are exploiting the Coronavirus through the wide distribution of mass emails posing as legitimate organizations such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO),” the Secret Service warns.
In one particular instance, victims reportedly received an email purporting to be from the WHO with an attachment supposedly containing pertinent information regarding the Coronavirus. This leads to either unsuspecting victims opening the attachment causing various types of malware to infect their system, or prompting the victim to enter their email login credentials to access the information resulting in harvested login credentials.
These incidents enable further instances of cyber-enabled financial crime such as Business Email Compromise (BEC), PII theft, ransomware, account takeovers, etc. Another side effect of the Coronavirus is increased teleworking, which furthers the reliance on email for communication adding yet another multiplier to these email fraud schemes. More of these incidents are expected, and increased vigilance regarding email communication is highly encouraged.
“Another emerging fraud scheme exploiting the Coronavirus is using social engineering tactics through legitimate social media websites seeking donations for charitable causes related to the virus,” the statement continues. “Criminals are exploiting the charitable spirit of individuals, seeking donations to fraudulent causes surrounding the Coronavirus. Increased caution should be exercised when donating to causes tied to Coronavirus relief.”
Officials say that a third fraud scheme surrounds non-delivery scams.
Criminal actors are allegedly advertising in-demand medical supplies for sale to be used to prevent/protect against the Coronavirus, i.e. medical masks, gloves, disinfectant, etc. The criminal enterprise will demand upfront payments or initial deposits, then abscond with the funds and never complete delivery of the ordered product. Increased caution and vigilance while purchasing these supplies should be exercised.
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.