As if 2020 hasn’t already been hard enough, scammers all over the world are having a field day on unsuspecting victims this year. Most notably, Barclays bank warns that forex scams and scams related to travel, investments, and social media are on the rise this year. This is because the COVID-19 pandemic is a blessing in disguise for scammers.
Scammers prey on desperate and greedy people. And as we are all aware, this worldwide pandemic has brought hardship, desperation and uncertainty. These are very suitable circumstances for scammers to thrive. Here is a bit of a look at one of the popular scam methods.
Forex Scams were Rampant During 2020
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused world-wide panic. Fraudsters were busy engineering scams that sound enticing during a pandemic. For instance, during the initial lockdown, just around the time the stimulus check was announced, there was a lot of speculation on investment ideas. Many people lost money on stocks by making bad choices in fear of the stock market collapse.
However, the real losses were reported from people who fell victim to fake traders offering them high returns. Kenzley Ramos from Georgia scammed investors with a promise of corona money profits. He used fake FX (foreign exchange) and binary options to make phony trading schemes. He promised people personal guarantees and high returns making them part with as much as two thousand dollars.
However, Ramos didn’t invest the money at all, he simply used it to pay for expenses in his own life. Instead of helping those in need, he took what little they had left.
Fake Cryptocurrency Scams
Cryptocurrency is not regulated by any financial body, making it a very volatile field. Since it Operates outside government and central bank regulation, it is ideal for fraud. Noteworthy scams over the past year include fake charity websites purported to help with the pandemic. They urged people to donate in cryptocurrency as well as wired money transfers.
They also claim to have medical supplies that are bought in virtual money. Some very daring scammers would track people down and threaten to harm them or loved ones with the COVID virus unless they pay them in bitcoin. Some scammers even promised to provide vaccines and many people fell for it. Once these people had made their crypto payment, there was no going back.
Phishing Scams Of 2020
Scammers are aware that people’s email addresses are busier than they have ever been this year. Bored people are surfing the web more this year because of the lockdown. Phishing emails and flashy links with malware are commonly used to trap unsuspecting victims. Some of them are purported to come from the CDC or the WHO organizations. They ask for personal details as well as billing details, and then use them to scam people.
One of the larger stories happened when Interpol intercepted a sophisticated scam operating between the Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. For this scam, there was a promise to deliver face masks (over 15 million worth), yet once the payment was sent, the masks were never shipped. The scammers would have made away with over one million euro if Interpol had not stepped in and stopped them.
Scammers Targeted Third World Countries
When the pandemic hit, third world countries were speculated to be the worst hit. They have less access to medical care, and their jobs often involve working in groups. As a result, scammers visited homes in South Africa to “recall” contaminated banknotes in exchange for “corona free” notes. Countries that received medical aid had many scammers pretending to be sick and siphoning money from the aid funding.
On top of this, scammers pretending to be medical personnel sold substandard masks and PPEs to hospitals. A whole shipment of PPEs and sanitizers disappeared from JKIA airport in Kenya. Many speculate that the donations from billionaire businessman Jack Ma can still be seen being sold on the Kenyan streets to date.
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