Warning issued as scammers target Aussies during Covid-19 crisis

Mar 20, 2020
The ACCC has issued a warning of virus related scams during the Covid-19 outbreak. Source: Getty

Aussies are being urged to be on high alert for scammers who are using the coronavirus crisis to prey on the vulnerable.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sent out a warning on Friday morning revealing an increase in scams over the past few months as Covid-19 spreads across the country. Since January 1, ScamWatch has received 94 reports of coronavirus-related scams, with experts claiming this figure will continue to rise.

“Unfortunately, scammers are using the uncertainty around Covid-19, or coronavirus, to take advantage of people,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.”Scammers are impersonating official organisations such as the World Health Organization and the Department of Health or legitimate businesses such as travel agents and telecommunications companies.”

To date, ScamWatch has received multiple reports of phishing scams sent via email or text message that claim to be providing official information on coronavirus but are actually attempts to obtain personal data. Others have reported receiving health and investment-related scams promising a cure and ways to profit from the crisis.

Rickard said some scammers have gone as far as creating fake online stores selling products claiming to be a vaccine or cure for coronavirus. With no known vaccine or cure for the virus, she urged people not to fall for their tricks and said the products they’re promising “simply do not exist”.

“Understandably, people want information on the pandemic, but they should be wary of emails or text messages claiming to be from experts,” Rickard said. “For the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and the World Health Organization websites directly.”

The warning comes days after Prime Minister Scott Morrison updated Aussies on the situation at hand, saying in a press conference outside Parliament House in Canberra that we have a six-month battle ahead.

“We need to continue to keep our heads [and] focus on the right information, helping and supporting each other each and every day to make changes that are absolutely necessary,” he said. “We are going to keep Australia running, keep Australia functioning, it won’t look like it normally does, but it’s very important.”

He added: “A sit of at least six months is how we are dealing with this, it could be longer. It could be shorter, but that’s unlikely.”

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