Phishing for Fraud

Russian hacker hacking the server in the dark

With millions of Americans teleworking to prevent the spread of coronavirus, cybersecurity is a huge issue. Government employees and others use virtual private networks to stay connected to their agencies and falling for a cybersecurity scam can infect the networks of whole organizations.

Knowing fraudsters’ penchant for preying on people’s vulnerabilities, it shouldn’t be surprising that they are using fear about the coronavirus to conduct online scams. A common one that is circulating is a phishing scam that looks like an email from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The email says, “Distributed via the CDC Health Alert Network,” and it includes a Web link to see “an updated list of new cases around your city.” That link includes “” But if you click – and please don’t – it opens to what looks like a Microsoft Outlook email page in the hopes that people will leave their contact information. The best clue that this is fraud is the sender’s email at the top of the page has “” (Pay attention, people! Real government email addresses end in “.gov.”)

Another version of this scam (a dumber one) includes the same fake CDC information, but this one includes a request for money to fight the coronavirus: “Funding of the above project is quite a huge costs and we plead for your goodwill donation ….” The giveaway here, of course, is that a government agency never asks for donations (you donate by paying your taxes) and if it did, the language would be grammatically correct. (Not a very sophisticated fraudster on this one.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from a KCRA News Channel 3, an NBC affiliate, report, “Coronavirus crooks exposed: New scam uses fears to steal your information,” posted March 6, 2020.

At first glance, they look like official emails, but if you look closer, you’ll see it’s a scam. New phishing campaigns are using the coronavirus to get people to provide their email addresses and passwords. These phishing emails appear to spoof the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they’re not from the government agency.

Experts like Kaspersky say that with the coronavirus heating up, we should expect to see malicious online campaigns using the epidemic as bait.

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.