Territorians are being warned of cyber criminals ramping up online frauds related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Northern Territory Police Cybercrime Unit’s ongoing analysis of COVID-19 scams and phishing emails indicate that sophisticated cyber criminals are involved.
NT Police say incidents are occurring and expect them to increase in frequency as the pandemic continues.
Some instances involve cybercriminals sending fake “COVID-19 relief payment” emails that offer recipients payments of $2,500 if they complete an application form.
This not only captures the victim’s identifying information, the application form also downloads malicious software onto the recipient’s device.
Other scams include fraudulent emails imitating trusted sources of information such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and text message campaigns designed to appear as official Australian Government agencies, but contain links directing people to websites that infect devices with malicious software.
The NT Police Cybercrime Unit said that malicious software can allow criminals’ undetected access the device to collect the user’s identifying information such as passwords, and control the email accounts.
Anti-Cybercrime groups are urging people who have been a victim of an online fraud or a scam to report the incident. Australians can obtain further online security information through the Australian Cyber Security website www.cyber.gov.au
Meanwhile, a report by the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) on the latest COVID-19 crimes noted that in Canada, there are reports of fraudulent text messages promising to link the recipients to government funds. The scam is aimed at getting bank details from the unsuspecting victims.
On 13 March, a cyberattack targeted the Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic, forcing them to postpone surgeries and send acute patients to a nearby alternative hospital. The entire IT department had to be shut down, crippling the major care centre just as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up.