The coronavirus pandemic is creating new opportunities for criminals by capitalising on people’s concerns about their health. New online scams are proliferating every day, Rashmee Roshan Lall explains.
First published in October 2020.
The other day I received an email offering a health check up with the blood drawn at home. It was a “spl offer”, the writer stressed. A handy hyperlink was below to “check details”.
I never did check, having a sneaking suspicion it was a phishing link, so I have absolutely no idea what malicious and illegal stratagem the sender had planned for me.
But it was a reminder of how the pandemic is creating new opportunities for criminals by capitalising on people’s concerns about their health. New scams are proliferating, some ingenious reprisals of old methods of parting the credulous from their money. So there are the fake anti-coronavirus products — sham Covid-19 medicines, substandard masks, PPE etc. There are the people who offer fake tax rebates from the government.
And there are the blood tests, on “spl offer” just for me.
It turns out that this may be one of the more astute scams because it takes advantage of one of a human being’s most profound insecurities — health.
The pandemic has exposed inequalities of opportunity and with unemployment set to soar and household finances very precarious, it’s natural for people to seek to avoid a quarantine, which could mean the difference between keeping a job and losing it. That’s what makes companies offering rapid tests (with blood drawn at home) attractive.
The phishing email is below.
Rashmee Roshan Lall, Journalist, World affairs columnist.