Criminals Exploit Coronavirus with New Scams, Warns CFTC

Among prevalent scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak are “pump and dump” schemes.

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission today alerted investors that scams related to COVID-19 are beginning to circulate across different sectors, with criminals capitalizing on the situation to run a range of financial scams.

“During this period of market volatility, we want to ensure the public has important information to help detect and stop fraud. We will aggressively pursue misconduct in our markets tied to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. There is never an appropriate time to prey on innocent people’s fears,” the CFTC said.

Among the most prevalent scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak are fraudsters urging people to invest in new stocks related to the disease.

That’s according to U.S. regulators, including the SEC, which all released investor alerts in the past week warning Americans about an uptick in internet promotions claiming that stocks of certain companies will dramatically increase.

Another common scam is “pump and dump” schemes related to some penny stocks where fraudsters try to boost its price by sharing positive, but fake, information. In this case, they claim that a company managed to detect coronavirus cases or to develop a new cure to prevent the infection.

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Phishing and other malicious email campaigns have also been running rampant on internet platforms since the outbreak began. Emails and websites promising vital information about keeping safe from the pandemic attempt to steal passwords and personal information, including credit card numbers.

Global regulators have also been proactive by cracking down on financial fraud and other abuses, like price gouging and fake coronavirus cures, though those related to COVID-19 were unprecedented in its complexity and scope.

On its part, the City watchdog has identified different scams infiltrating Britons’ email inboxes, including insurance policies, pensions transfers, and high-return investment opportunities, as well as cryptocurrencies.

Elsewhere, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) also warned locals that the COVID-19 pandemic had become a bonanza for scammers of all stripes. The MFSA added that the new wave of fraudulent activities is exploiting the global concern about the deadly disease to make money and steal information.

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