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The Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t just pose a threat to health and economies – it could pave the way for a surge in cybercrime too.

That’s according to the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) which is urging banks and residents to be alert to the likelihood of “new and increased” tactics used by crooks online.

“Criminals may attempt to profit from the pandemic through fraudulent fundraising for fake charities, various medical and Pyramid Scheme scams and online sales of counterfeit medicines and medical supplies, and impersonating law enforcement officers and health officials to steal financial information,” a statement warned.

Home-based working has increased the potential cybercrime victim pool, said ONDCP director Lieutenant Colonel Edward Croft.

“People take greater risks online at home which inadvertently exposes corporate IT to cybercriminals,” he said. “Be cautious when accessing worldwide web services.”

Financial institutions are also encouraged to remain extra vigilant to alternative methods of laundering proceeds of crime.

“Due to border closures, criminals will seek alternative remittance methods for their criminal finances, such as cryptocurrencies or wire transfers,” he said.

“Cybercrime is evolving and growing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Online fraud, and other electronic crime target individuals, whilst ransomware primarily compromises systems within institutions.”

Criminals who exploit operational gaps in corporate systems leave government organisations more vulnerable to malware too.

“There may be increased spread of misinformation and disinformation aimed at confusing the public and undermining the scientific response. Only pay attention to the official releases from the government and Ministry of Health officials,” he added.

Anyone who thinks their finances may have been hacked or compromised is urged to alert the ONDCP or police.

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