Scammers are taking advantage of the COVID19 pandemic to con people into giving up their money. Here are the top 4 scams we have unfortunately encountered during this financially complex time:
I am sure many of you, like ourselves, have received at least one form of message with a loan proposal with ‘immediate approval and no extra fees’ this past month.
All you need to do is call or click a link. Many of these text messages are an attempt to gather personal information such as bank account details and to fraudulently take your money.
This is achieved by firstly sending emails or text messages to your cellular device containing a link to a website that is disguising as a legitimate company for external bank loans at attractive interest rates.
Next, the victim ignorantly leaves his or her details and shortly after receives a call from a “financial adviser” to provide “financial loans.”
During the call, the applicant is then asked to transfer funds to a bank account provided as part of the loan portfolio, while the fraudsters verify the applicant’s personal details, including credit card information, passwords etc.
In addition, there is often a handling fee charged that can reach up to $600.
If you are interested in taking out a loan, be sure to conduct some research on the company to ensure its legitimacy. Not just from the company’s own website but rather reviews and consult a professional.
Fake Donation and Charity Scams
A charity or donation scam is when a fraud poses as a real charity or creates a non-existing, fake charity.
Throughout this period, we have seen many charities calling and asking people for donations related to COVID19 vaccine development, test kits, assisting the elderly during this economic crisis, etc. many of these charities were flagged as fraudulent!
If you are financially able to contribute, we are by no means encouraging you to stop donating, on the contrary, we want to ensure that thieves are not taking advantage of your generosity.
Here are a few tips:
If you receive text messages, emails or phone calls requesting a donation, do not feel pressured to make the donation over the phone or link. First research each charity or cause to ensure it is legitimate and not a scam.
Do not under any circumstance provide personal information in response to unsolicited inquiries.
If you are in the donating mood, search for a cause on a verified website. A verified charity website should begin with the extension “https“ ensuring your transaction and information provided is secure.
Cyber “Giveaway” Scams
These days, while millions of people are staying home and many others are trying to avoid crowded areas such as supermarkets, hackers find an opportunity to take advantage of our fear and current situation by sending out links to our mobile devices.
People receive messages offering free movie links, links to news feeds or even coupons for your local supermarket.
The classic cyber attack phenomenon attempting to extract your personal information is still at its height, however, lately we have encountered a cyber attack for personal advertising benefits as well.
Most recently, in Israel, there was a scam going on where a chain supermarket had a promotion offering vouchers for $250 towards online shopping.
All you needed to do was click the link, answer a few questions and share the link with friends. When answering the questionnaire, malware was downloaded to your device and you would have been asked to enable notifications on your device.
The purpose of this scam was to enable advertisements to pop up through the use of any app on your device.
If you have opened such a link, we suggest you scan your device with anti-virus software or alternatively backup and format your device to factory settings.
Stock Market Scam
Another form of scam worth warning about is a “pump and dump” scam for stocks promoting that their company has the ability to detect, prevent or cure COVID19.
During this complex and uncertain time, people will be compelled to buy such stocks.
“Pump and dump” scams are a form of fraud that involve artificially inflating prices through misleading statements in order to sell the cheaply purchased stock at a higher price.
In addition, investors should look out for suspicious emails by hackers disguised as portfolio managers and advisers trying to take advantage of investors’ fears of losing their investments.
Consult your portfolio manager whom you know and trust regarding any stock purchases or changes in investments.