New Emerging Frauds during COVID-19

New Emerging Frauds during COVID-19

New Emerging Frauds during COVID-19:

The Corona-virus, also known as 2019-nCoV, has emerged from its epicenter - Wuhan, China. Since, then it has spread to almost all the nations across the globe, including India. The world has been shattered with countries like Italy, USA etc facing the maximum agony. The economic loss has been unimaginable and will take years and possibly decades to revive fully. 

However, cyber-criminals are seeing even this crisis situation, as an opportunity to  mint money. Some hackers were even responsible for ransom-ware attacks on hospitals treating COVID-19 patients, a reprehensible crime on humanity. 

Since the emergence of Corona-virus, cyber criminals are continuously shifting to newer methods of frauds. As most countries have mandated work from home, hackers have found new loopholes to exploit. This is because the new work environment lacks access controls, firewall, VPNs etc.   

In this blog we shall discuss the newer methods of frauds that have emerged during COVID-19 pandemic. 

Coronavirus Phishing Frauds:
Cyber-criminals are designing emails with eye-catching subject line and are sending malicious attachments along-with it. The attackers use social engineering to customize the mail as per the target. It includes use of the victim name in the mail, using native language the target speaks etc to fool the user into believing that it’s coming from reputable source. 

In reality, these files and documents, contain malwares including Trojan, viruses and worms that can potentially cause irreparable loss. Criminals disguise malwares as pdf, docs, docx, mp4 etc files, relating to Corona-virus infection. The headline is deliberately made catchy to make users click on it. You can expect similar headlines: 

  • Here are top 5 unknown facts about corona-virus infection!
  • Learn 3 best ways to detect and cure Corona-virus in this docx file.  
  • Corona-virus has reached India, learn how to make yourself safe from COVID-19. 
  • Can boiled thick garlic water be a treatment for corona-virus? Learn more in this MP3 video.  

Video: New Emerging Frauds during COVID-19

To read in detail about Corona-virus phishing email, navigate to:

Telephone Fraud:
This fraud is often associated with Call spoofing for greater impact and higher success ratio. Some technologies especially Voice over IP (VoIP) allow callers to forge caller ID information and display false names and numbers. 

This scam involves a fraudulent call in which the caller introduces himself/ herself as calling from hospital, where your relatives need immediate medical assistance. The number is spoofed to match the number of the hospital and aims to leverage sense of urgency to de-fraud people. 

The fraudster then demands immediate payment for necessary medical assistance. Once the money is paid into their account, they continue to ask for more money in one pretext or the other. Once the person becomes reluctant to pay more, the conman disappears like puff of dust or stops responding to calls / blocks your number. 

Fake Calls Offering Moratorium on Loans:
The conman talks about moratorium announced by RBI on payment of EMIs (Easy Monthly Installments) due to COVID-19. The fraudster, generally introduce themselves as Bank Official from Loan Section. Once the person become convinced, conman lays his trap

Fraudster then asks for confidential personal information like:

  • Debit/ Credit card details
  • OTP
  • The fraudster may ask to install apps like AnyDesk, Team Viewer, Quick Support etc as pre-condition to avail the moratorium on loans. 

However, once the app is installed and necessary permissions granted, the fraudster gains access to OTPs to perform unauthorized financial transaction. 

Free Netflix Fraud:
Fake SMS are circulating that claims NETFLIX is giving away free passes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cyber criminals have started this scam to steal users money, again by asking for confidential bank information as excuse for giving free passes. 

How to Protect Yourself?

  • Decline the call: If you ever receive any such fraudulent call, just decline the call as soon as possible. The longer you talk to the fraudster, more the chances of divulging personal information, which might be useful to the fraudster. 
  • Never share personal information: Whatever the rank or authority the stranger might claim over the phone, you should never share crucial personal information. It includes OTPs, UPI PIN, card details etc. 
  • Do not download and install third-party apps, such as Screen Share, Any Desk, Team Viewer etc. Always use apps downloaded from the official Google play store (for Android) or App Store (for iPhones). This applies to bank apps as well. 
  • Don’t search for Customer Care Numbers on the internet: Never search for customer care numbers on the internet, as fraudster are known to create fake web-pages and perform SEO to list their fake website at the top of the search list. To find the contact details visit the official website. For example, to find customer care support number of Zomato, visit their official website Similarly, bank official numbers can be found through their official website. They can also be found printed on the passbook or on the back of the ATM card. 

What if You Become a Victim of COVID-19 frauds?
Report the fraud at: 

  • Local Police Station or 
  • Local/ State Cyber Cell or 
  • At the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal having the URL -

Latest details of cyber cells in India:

To get Money Refund in COID-19 Fraud Cases:
Submit a similar complaint to the nearest bank branch and the RBI branch. The complaint to RBI branch is primarily meant to pressurize the bank to deal with the case swiftly and strictly as per the procedure prescribed by RBI.

RBI Bank branches: The RBI branches pan India can be seen using this link -

Care must be taken to ensure you notify the bank within three working days of receiving the communication from the bank regarding the unauthorized transaction, to enjoy zero customer liability.  

Stay in contact with bank officials, seeking refund as per RBI guidelines. In case of delay, seek reasons for the same.  

To read in detail about the process for money refund in online fraud cases, click here: