The current pandemic is leading to a massive increase in corona-related activities in counterfeiting and cybercrime. For example, in February, the Chinese authorities seized more than 31 million counterfeit or low-quality face masks that appeared on the market in the middle of the corona virus outbreak. The government authorities are targeting criminal suppliers and dealers who sell fakes and are involved in illegal price fixing. By the end of February, 688 cases are said to have been processed in China and 1,560 suspects arrested.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also warn against unscrupulous counterfeiters. They advertise in a way that suggests their products have been approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Counterfeiters use misleading product descriptions, mention the NIOSH certification and use illegal logos.
The European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF is now stepping up the fight against counterfeit masks, medical devices, disinfectants and test kits. The Office is investigating the import of counterfeit products, often at several times the normal price, many of which are ineffective or even harmful to health. These include so-called corona sprays, coronavirus packages or coronavirus medicine. Counterfeit products mainly come to Europe through online sales and are delivered by postal or courier services. INTERPOL has identified more than 2,000 links to websites with fakes that are related to Covid-19.
Cybercriminals exploit the fear of the virus by spreading new Trojans via spam campaigns. The campaign claims, for example, that this is official information about the corona virus from the World Health Organization. Or that an attached file provides an overview of how to protect your health quickly and easily. Whoever opens the attachment installs malware that allows the attacker to access personal data and thus identity theft, online banking fraud and account compromise.
Sources: Xinhua, Business Insider, CDC, EUROPOL