Blackmail hoaxes and fake coronavirus cures targeting Kiwis online during lockdown

We were warned to stay home and stay safe but even at home, where we are online in huge numbers, we are not safe from a wave of scams sweeping thee globe on the heels of Covid-19.

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In one case, a scam has cost one unlucky Kiwi $2000. Source: 1 NEWS

Police have noted a sharp spike in “sexploitation emails” and are looking at about 100 complaints of blackmail filed over Easter.

The scammers tend to be offshore, the ransoms paid in Bitcoin are unrecoverable and at least one person has paid up - a loss of $1900 that is more costly given the tough economic times we face.

Police want to reassure people that there is no chance they have really been recorded in their homes via webcam, but the scammers do make the emails look very convincing.

Email addresses and passwords harvest in big data breaches of popular online services are on-sold and the details used to craft very convincing threats.

The advice is to ignore them and to change passwords on any account that receives such threats.

Globally, authorities are chasing even more specific virus-related scams. In California, the FBI arrested a minor actor and Instagram influencer for peddling a fake cure. Keith Middleton was allegedly caught offering an undercover agent promising multi-million dollar returns on investments in his non-existent cure.

Authorities in the UK have been tracking sites which claim to be able to supply commercial quantities of masks and gloves but which are really only any good at taking money and giving excuses.

The advice is to be extra cautious - not just with social distancing – but with any offer to part with money online for something that seems out of the ordinary and to contact police if in doubt.