As the number of global coronavirus cases grows by the day, online scammers are turning to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) to steal money under cover of the global pandemic.
According to cybersecurity firm Sophos, some online perpetrators are now impersonating the World Health Organization (WHO) in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency donations to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chester Wisniewski, a cybersecurity expert at Sophos, reported on WHO impersonators in a tweet of March 19 and posted email screenshots of scammers. According to Wisniewski, the fraudsters attempt to deceive people by sending them Bitcoin as a donation to the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which was launched on March 13.
WHO established the new coronavirus fund in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, after the agency officially declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. As announced, the COVID-19 launched Solidarity Response Fund with support from internet giants such as Facebook and Google. individual donors to support the fund through the official website.
However, the fake donation request reported by Wisniewski does not refer to the website at all. According to the screenshot, the impersonators ask potential donors to donate by sending Bitcoin directly to an address in the email. The impersonators also use a spoofed address, firstname.lastname@example.org, to cheat people, according to data from the security researcher. As of the time of printing, both Bitcoin addresses listed in the fake emails are empty, according to data from the Blockchain.com explorer.
Despite the WHO asking a detailed FAQ about its COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, it is not immediately clear whether or not the fund accepts donations in crypto.
A number of governments have already warned the public against the outbreak of crypto scams trying to respond to the widespread fears related to COVID-19. On March 11, the Financial Conduct Authority of the United Kingdom (UK) issued an official warning regarding coronavirus crooks who use every possible means to mislead people by giving them money. The supervisor wrote:
Beware of scams related to coronavirus (Covid-19). This scam takes many forms and can involve insurance, retirement transfers or high-return investment opportunities, including investments in crypto assets. “
Previously, the UK also issued police warnings against coronavirus scammers requesting payments in Bitcoin. Coronavirus-themed ransomware known as CovidLock that infects users’ devices and requests payment of $ 100 to Bitcoin in exchange for a password that would return control of the device to its owner.