Crime | September 12, 2020 6:00 am

New Email Scam Plays on Coronavirus Fears

And it's not the only one

Face masks
Face masks can defend against COVID-19, but not against scams.
Vera Davidova/Unsplash

With the country enmeshed in a pandemic, it’s understandable that people would be concerned about their risk of contracting the coronavirus. And there’s a reason that governments across the world have made use of contact tracing in various forms to measure the potential spread of the pandemic.

That’s one benefit of living in a world where many people have devices capable of tracking them and monitoring their activity. It can be a nightmare for privacy, but a useful feature when it comes to emergency scenarios like the one we’re living through. But what happens when the ubiquity of surveillance is used for much less pleasant ends?

At The Verge, Zoe Schiffer explores a growing scam that’s targeting people concerned about contracting COVID-19. The article describes various people receiving an ominously worded email, which included the following lines: “We would like to inform you that you have been recorded as leaving your home on 3 occasions yesterday. A fine of $59 has been added to your gov.us account.”

As Schiffer writes, this is not a legitimate website; if you followed the links in the website, you’d be taken to something far removed from an official government website. It’s also far from the only coronavirus-related scam that’s circulated this year.

“The coronavirus pandemic has been a gift to scammers, who’ve capitalized on people’s confusion and fear to bully them into handing over money,” Schiffer writes. Recent months have also seen scams pretending to be COVID-19 test results, among other schemes. And while most people can easily sniff out a potential scam, “most people” isn’t everyone — and that leaves a lot of ground for scammers to profit from people’s fear at the worst possible time.

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