Over 35,500 coronavirus-related websites reported as scam

Ruth C. | April 02, 2020

According to Atlas VPN research, cumulatively, scammers created over 35,500 unique websites related to COVID-19 in the last month. Here, they tried to swindle money by selling masks, hand-sanitizers, or even virus testing kits.

Our data is projected based on Chad Anderson’s insights, who is a senior security researcher at DomainTools. Chad Anderson claims that in February, he saw about 50 suspicious coronavirus-related sites a day. In March, the figure skyrocketed to over 1,000 sites per day. That is a 1900% increase in coronavirus-related website scams

Additionally, we gathered all publicly reported data regarding the issue from Shopify, Amazon, New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, The Washington Post, Coindesk, and Interpol.

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Amazon removed over 530,000 coronavirus-related product listings due to price-gouging. Moreover, Amazon said it blocked or removed more than 1 million misleading listings. Vendors claimed that their masks can completely block COVID-19 or that their offered pills will supposedly kill the virus in your system.

Shopify, one of e-commerce platform giants, also reports that they closed a significant amount of websites that were trying to sell fake or mislabeled products. Their spokeswoman, Hufft, Shopify, stated that they already closed more than 4,500 sites related to the virus.

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Million dollar losses

Recently, Interpol announced that they received reports of fraudulent websites successfully luring money out of panicking US citizens. They received reports of losses as high as $100,000 in a single case. During March, the agency blocked 18 bank accounts and froze over $ 730,000 in fraudulent transactions.

Interpol started to take action to fight against surging scammer activities. They carried out Operation Pangea XIII, where they arrested 121 criminals worldwide and seized products worth more than $14 million.

Moreover, scammers swindled at least $2 million in cryptocurrency from consumers in the last month. Unlike banks, where you can request a charge-back, after sending out the payment in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, the money is virtually lost.

Authorities in the UK also report significant cash losses of its citizens. Police identified 106 cases of fraud where coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totaling over $1.2 million. Also, we have reported on the increased number of Trojans related to COVID-19.

COVID-19 outbreak changes shopping habits

A survey published by Forbes shows how coronavirus pandemic changes shopping habits, which shows that men and women are behaving differently.

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It turns out that 47% of men and 41% of women agreed coronavirus had an impact on their purchase decisions in general. Respondents also claimed pandemic made them buy additional groceries: 22% of men are buying more grocery products than usual versus only 17% of women who noticed an increase in their grocery-spendings.

The poll also shows that almost one in five men are shopping online more than usual. While only 18% of women reported their online shopping is more frequent. Approximately one-third of both men and women agreed they are shopping in physical stores less than before.

These findings suggest that men are more concerned about the current pandemic. This might be due to the fact that recent news reported the male mortality rate significantly higher than females. In Italy, more than 70% of deaths are men. So far, scientists and doctors do not have an explanation of why the coronavirus affects men more severely. Also, medical institutions have struggled to cope due to running old operating systems. That could contribute to crashes or even data breaches.

Ruth C.

Ruth C.

Cybersecurity Researcher and Publisher at Atlas VPN. Interested in cybercrime, online security, and privacy-related topics.



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