Cyber security expert warns of scams tied to coronavirus

(Francois Mori, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Experts are warning of new scams tied to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Shannon Wilkinson is a cybersecurity expert based in Las Vegas, but even the CEO of Tego Cyber Inc. gets scam emails.

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Scammers are pretending to be health officials and promising new information like "updated cases of the coronavirus near you," she said, in hopes, people will give up their personal data.

“There is one scam going around where they're pretending to be the CDC asking for donations in bitcoin,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said any time there's a health epidemic or natural disaster, predators are ready to take advantage of others who might not be able to tell the difference.

Some ask for usernames and passwords. Others plant undetectable malware in a computer to track sensitive data entered on websites like banks.

Wilkinson said it’s usually easy to tell if an email is a scam: check the sender’s address and look for grammatical errors or phrases that seem out of place in the body of the email.

But she said scammers are getting more sophisticated.

“There’s a lot of little red flags but, unfortunately, cybercriminals are just getting better at masking their intent,” she said. “They've actually hired copywriters to help them with grammatical errors to make their emails look more legitimate.”

If an email looks suspicious, “don’t click on the link in the email, but actually go to what you know is the CDC’s website,” Wilkinson said.

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