Letters contaminated with Covid-19 likely to be sent to political leaders, says Interpol

Updated on Nov 20, 2020 08:36 AM IST

Interpol has said that instances of individuals spitting and coughing in the faces of law enforcement officers, health practitioners and essential worker to intimidate them have been reported

Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, central France.(File photo)
Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, central France.(File photo)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByNeeraj Chauhan

Interpol, the international police organisation, has asked law enforcement agencies globally to beware of Covid-19 contaminated letters likely to be sent to political leaders and individuals.

In its latest guidelines pertaining to Covid-19 for law enforcement agencies in 194 member countries including India, Interpol has said that instances of individuals spitting and coughing in the faces of law enforcement officers, health practitioners and essential worker to intimidate them have been reported. “This could represent a risk if these individuals are infected with Covid-19,” the guidelines said.

“Attempts at deliberate contamination by spitting and coughing on surfaces and objects has been reported.”

It added that despite limited risk, a few cases of threatening letters allegedly contaminated with Covid-19 targeted political figures have also been reported. This modus operandi, Interpol said, can also be used to target other vulnerable groups.

The international agency did not mention any specific instances of contaminated letters sent to politicians.

Interpol said certain individuals may deliberately move from Covid-19 affected areas to non-affected areas despite their medical condition and travel restrictions.

It said that instances of individuals claiming to sell contaminated samples of body fluids online have also been reported.

Interpol has said that those in-charge of protecting prominent public figures should be made aware of these risks and specialised cyber-crime or counter-terrorism investigators should pay particular attention to online market places.

It said postal and front-desk services should be informed of biological threats posed by suspicious packages and follow the regular protection measures.

Interpol has also warned that malware and ransomware campaigns infecting computer systems of individuals are currently on rise. It added cyber-criminals were targeting sites where system access or data is critical for the deployment of ransomware.

It said criminals are using health related equipment or services business to cover up suspicious transactions to integrate their ill-gotten money into the legal economy.

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