Online scams, fraudulent transactions rose exponentially amid Covid-19 - Hindustan Times

Online scams, fraudulent transactions rose exponentially amid Covid-19

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar
Dec 16, 2020 02:50 PM IST

France, US and Britain saw rise in number of Covid-19-related frauds and scams which led to economic losses to large companies as well as common people.

The spread of Covid-19 also saw a rise in the number of cybercrimes across the planet. Following the spread of Covid-19, governments across the world took out awareness campaigns against Covid-19 misinformation. Despite these efforts, scammers have been duping people over the internet by selling them ‘vaccines’, immunity boosters, faulty PPE kits and many more such items designed to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The pandemic saw a surge in fraudulent transactions and online scams.(REUTERS)
The pandemic saw a surge in fraudulent transactions and online scams.(REUTERS)

US homeland security on November 30 announced taking help from its 7,000 agents to stop Covid-19 related frauds along with FDA and FBI ahead of the vaccine rollout in the United States. According to a report by the Associated Press, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, a government watchdog fighting intellectual property theft analysed 70,900 websites which were suspected of being involved in some nature of Covid-19 fraud.

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Earlier this year, Reuters reported how French and Singapore’s law enforcement officials tracked down miscreants who had duped a French firm of $10 million in a PPE kit scam during March, at a time when the disease was infecting a lot of people and demand for PPE kits were also on the rise.

Raj, an accountant working with the Standard Chartered bank in France, who helped track the miscreants said, “Prior to COVID-19 I would say I handled maybe 20 to 30 scam cases per year, but during this period from March to now we have handled several hundred.”

Britain has seen a huge rise in impersonation frauds between January and October, according to a Barclays report accessed by Reuters. Impersonation fraud is a means of extracting money from people where tricksters pretend to be officials chasing unpaid bank charges, bills or fines by telephone or email.

Britain’s government authorities faced problems disbursing the 26 billion pounds in emergency ‘Bounce-Back’ lending to small businesses due to fraud or insolvency, according to the UK’s National Audit Office report.

Global banks have also stepped up efforts to curb the menace of fraudsters looking to exploit the pandemic for their own gains.

(with agency inputs)

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