According to cybersecurity expert, some scammers are impersonating World Health Organization (WHO) to defraud people to steal BTC donated for COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Chester Wisniewski, a cybersecurity expert for Sophos Group, a British security software and hardware company, shared a tweet on March 19 posting screenshots of emails sent from criminals. The email intends to misled people to sent their donation onto Bitcoin addresses that does not belongs to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Fund that was launched on March 13.
The tweet form Chester Wisniewski reads:
“The scammers impersonating the @WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund are evolving. First samples seen on 16 March and have put a bit more spit and polish on the 18 March run. Please donate to the real fund here: https://covid19responsefund.org ”
According to the screenshot shared by the expert, the emails do not belongs to WHO website. The fraudsters are using some forged addresses like email@example.com. These fake emails asked donors to sent BTC donation to addresses that were given in email. According to the reports, the BTC addresses given in the emails are still empty.
Interestingly, both the emails shared by Chester contains a different senders name. One of the emails reads:
“Now you can help us by donating any amount you want with the help of Bitcoin Network
DONATE NOW with Bitcoin payment
World Health Organization bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) for donation is: ******************** ”
The World Health Organization established the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in collaboration with the United Nation Foundation after the WHO labelled the Coronavirus as a pandemic on March 11. The fund was launched with the support of Google and Facebook that invites people to donate funds through the official website of the fund. As such, the fund dost not sent any email or request to people donate funds. Furthermore, it is still unclear whether the funds receives the donation in cryptocurrencies or not.
The government have also issued warnings about the scammer trying to take the advantage to COVID-19 pandemic. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a warning on March 11 asking people to be aware of scammers.
The warning reads;
“Watch out for scams related to coronavirus (Covid-19). These scams take many forms and could be about insurance policies, pensions transfers, or high-return investment opportunities, including investments in crypto assets.
Scammers are sophisticated, opportunistic and will try many things. They are also very likely to target the vulnerable. Beware of investments that appear to be too good be true. If you decide to invest in something offering a high return or in a crypto asset, you should be prepared to lose all your money.”
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