Secret Service: Criminals are using coronavirus fears to run email phishing scams

Scams are nothing new, but the methods criminals use to perform them are ever-evolving.

According to the United States Secret Service, scammers are now using the coronavirus outbreak to target unsuspecting victims.

Three particular schemes caught the agency’s eye: Phishing emails, social engineering and non-delivery.

Phishing involves sending emails pretending to represent a legitimate company or person in order to trick a victim into revealing private information.

The Secret Service said scammers send emails under the guise of a medical official with important information about coronavirus. When the victim lets their guard down and opens an attached file, their computer becomes infected with malware.

The scammer could access the victim’s passwords and possibly even their financial information.

Three particular schemes caught the agency’s eye: Phishing emails, social engineering and non-delivery. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“Avoid opening attachments and clicking on links within emails from senders you do not recognize,” the Secret Service said. These attachments can contain malicious content, such as ransomware, that can infect your device and steal your information.”

Authorities said scammers are using social engineering to prey on the charitable spirit of the public during the outbreak.

They establish fraudulent charities that are designed to give the appearance of to be related to helping those inflicted with the virus.

In non-delivery schemes, victims are told about an in-demand medical supply that can prevent coronavirus. Once they pay for it, the victim never hears from the seller again or receives a product, the agency said.

The Secret Service said the public should always independently verify that any requested information comes from a legitimate source.

And instead of clicking on links in emails, agents recommend manually inputting the domain name.

This story was reported from Atlanta.