Do not trust the "COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide" scam

Also Known As: COVID-19 Pandemic Is Straining Health Systems Worldwide spam
Damage level: Medium

What is "COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide"?

Many scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic by sending various scams via email. These attempt to trick recipients into transferring money, clicking on malicious links, opening malicious attachments, etc. In this particular case, scammers seek to deceive recipients into transferring cryptocurrency to the provided BTC wallet.

They attempt to trick them into believing that, by sending Bitcoins, they will donate money for starving people living in poor countries. You are strongly advised to ignore this and other similar scams.

COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide email

Criminals behind this scam pose as members of an organization that coordinates donations for healthcare workers who help starving people in countries such as South Sudan, Chad, Niger, Republic of Burundi, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mozambique, and other African countries.

They seek to trick recipients into believing that, by donating money, they will help to provide emergency aid, fight the starvation, etc. Essentially, recipients are asked to support African countries by sending an undisclosed amount of cryptocurrency to the provided BTC wallet. Unfortunately, there are many other similar scams available online.

Commonly, scammers disguise their emails as messages from the WHO (World Health Organization), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or other organizations that are responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

Threat Summary:
Name COVID-19 Pandemic Is Straining Health Systems Worldwide Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Scammers claim that they work for an organization which helps starving people in African countries.
Cyber Criminal Cryptowallet Address 12X8qsmy2Q2izPitfxQ7MnY1eBeNdbj3Uk
Disguise This email is disguised as an official message regarding emergency aid.
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Some examples of similar scams are "COVID-19 Cases Surpassed 300,000" and "Infect Your Family With CoronaVirus".

Typically, scammers behind them attempt to extort money from unsuspecting recipients. Many scams attempt to trick people into installing malware through a malicious link or attached file. They use spam campaigns to distribute malware like Emotet, TrickBot, LokiBot, various ransomware, and other malicious programs.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

When cyber criminals attempt to proliferate malware via spam campaigns, they send emails that contain malicious links or attachments. Their main goal is to trick recipients into executing a malicious file that installs malware.

Examples of files that cyber criminals attach to their emails are Microsoft Office documents, executable files (.exe), PDF documents, JavaScript files, archive files such as ZIP, RAR. Generally, malicious MS Office documents infect computers when users give them permission to enable editing/content (macros commands).

If a malicious document is opened with MS Office 2010 or an earlier version, it installs malware automatically, since those versions do not include Protected View mode. In summary, malware is distributed successfully only if users (recipients) open/execute malicious files. Therefore, computers are safe as long as malicious attachments and files remain unopened.

How to avoid installation of malware

You are strongly advised not to open attachments or links in irrelevant emails, especially if the emails are received from unknown, suspicious addresses. Cyber criminals commonly disguise their emails as official or important and seek to trick recipients into installing malware through malicious links or attachments.

Installed software must be updated and activated only through implemented functions or tools that are provided by official developers. Note that it is illegal to activate software through third party, unofficial tools. All files should be downloaded from official websites and via direct links.

Other channels (third party downloaders, unofficial web pages, etc.) should not be trusted, since they can proliferate malicious software. Scan the operating system for threats with a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware suite and keep the software up to date.

If you have already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the "COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide" email message:

Subject: Over five thousand people died of food starvation everyday

Hello Dear,

The COVID-19 pandemic is straining health systems worldwide.

The rapidly increasing demand on health facilities and health care workers threatens to leave some health systems overstretched and unable to operate effectively.
But we continue to provide assistance to help govern and oversee the nation wide strategy supporting important humanitarian causes across

Africa, with countries herbited by very needy poor individuals people in South Sudan, Chad, Niger, Republic of Burundi, Burkina Faso,
Mali, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Mozambique, Central African  Republic (etc) children living in extreme poverty. we now need the support of people.

As Over five thousand people died of food starvation everyday ,mostly women and children during these season of food scarcity levels in the  African region are “spiralling out of control”, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday, that governments  lacks the money to provide much-needed aid to millions of hungry people, and donations promised by the international community have not yet been made

We continue to cordinate world-wide money donations for our frontliners so they can reach-out the poor/needy.
You expecially can be of great help to them by donating as much as you can for support.

No-one [men & women/ Boys & Girls] by law or any mandatry means is bound to take full responsibity of others no matter how wealthy/rich one can be. But as free deserving gifted and destined wealthy/rich, we are bound to help here.

Most banks worldwide currently are in COVID-19 locked-down restrictions, so we fiqured the best easier means of you to donate funds/money for us to keep helping the poor, the needy, starving children and opharns without going to the bank is through hxxps://www.bitcoin.com/

Kindly make instant purchase of BIitcoin online by creating a "bitcoin wallet". Then after the purchase,  you can send to our receiving bitcoin address below.

Receiving BTC address: 12X8qsmy2Q2izPitfxQ7MnY1eBeNdbj3Uk

We greatly thank you for your kind support and may you be richly repaid/rewarded endlessly for donating.

Best Regards

Dr.Felix Maurice M.D. & Ph.D

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing Emails

Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.

Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.

After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.

Email-virus icon Emails with Malicious Attachments

Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.

In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.

If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.

While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.

To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.

How to spot a malicious email?

While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:

  • Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
  • Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.

To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows

Example of a spam email:

Example of an email spam

What to do if you fell for an email scam?

  • If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
  • If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
  • If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
  • If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
  • Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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