Internet scams are on the rise

Computer and Phone

Internet scams are on the rise

The Swiss cantonal police are warning against a rise in scam attempts in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, with criminals contacting people via internet or phone to trick them into sending money. Zurich advises its customers to exercise caution.

The authorities have observed an increase in the following scam activities:

  • Phishing e-mails: E-mails are being sent out that appear to be from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (Bundesamt für Gesundheit/BAG).
  • Voice phishing: Criminals place phone calls claiming to be representatives of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, seeking to obtain personal information from the targeted individuals. Another tactic is to post interactive maps on websites of the spread of the corona virus which actually trigger a download of malware.
  • Solicitation of fraudulent donations: Criminals claiming to be employees of a charitable organization solicit donations to allegedly fund the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Fake shops for medical products: Criminals create fake web shops offering medical products like protective masks. After making payment, the buyer’s goods never arrive.
  • Money mules: Individuals claiming to represent a company make lucrative offers to gullible citizens in order to exploit them as money mules for money laundering.
  • Baseless extortion threats: Criminals send a threatening e-mail that a family member of the person contacted will be infected with the corona virus unless extortion money is paid.

The authorities are advising the public to exercise the same caution now to avoid becoming the victim of fraud as before Corona:

  • Never open an e-mail or an e-mail attachment from an unknown sender, and never click on any e-mailed links.
  • Never agree to pay extortion money, and never respond to any suspicious e-mail – which is nearly always spam.
  • Never allow an unknown caller to pressurize. In case of doubt, simply hang.
  • Never share passwords, access data or account information via phone or e-mail.
  • Only place small orders with a web shop if you are required to pay in advance. For larger amounts, use a recommended escrow or online trust account. Another recommended alternative is to pay for goods on collection.
  • Never allow others to make use of your bank accounts.
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software installed to detect and protect against malware, and keep this software up to date on your personal systems at all times.


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