For COVID-19 updates, visit the official government website www.sacoronavirus.co.za for free.
After global phenomena, natural disasters or pandemics like COVID-19 occur, there is often an increase of opportunistic criminal activity on the internet. The bad guys are preying on your fear and sending all sorts of scams related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Below are some examples of the types of scams you should be on the lookout for:
These websites are set up with the purpose of infecting your device with malware. Watch out for sites such as Coronavirus(.)com or Corona -virus-Map(.)com. Since January there have been thousands of websites registered to contain the word ʻcoronaʼ and many of those are suspicious. Some of these websites distribute malware.
Spam emails try to grab your curiosity by using conspiracy themed catchphrases, such as “censored”, to try and sell information (paid-for videos) or goods that are now in high demand, such as masks, hand sanitizers or vitamins.
These are usually emails that appear to come from organisations such as the CDC (US Center for Disease Control) or the WHO (World Health Organisation). The scammers have crafted emails that appear to come from these sources, but they actually contain malicious phishing links or suspicious attachments. There are also emails that claim to have a “new” or “updated” list of cases of Coronavirus in your area. These emails contain dangerous links.
A popular way scammers get access to your money is through emails and websites that ask for charity donations for studies, doctors, or victims that have been affected by the Coronavirus (COVID -19). Scammers often create fake charity emails after global disasters or pandemics like the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fake internal HR or IT communication
This can include coronavirus surveys impersonating your HR or IT department with the objective being to steal your username and password. To access the ʻdocumentʼor ʻsurveyʼ, the recipient has to provide their Office 365 credentials on a fake site – thus compromising their login details/Office 365 account.
How to protect yourself against scams like these
- Never click on links or open attachments from an email that you werenʼt expecting.
- If you receive a suspicious email that appears to come from an official organisation such as the WHO or the South African Department of Health, report the email to your security team to double-check.
- If you want to make a charitable donation, go to the charity website of your choice to submit your payment. Type the charityʼs web address in your browser instead of clicking on any links in emails or other messages.
And lastly, donʼt trust anyone knocking on your door, dressed up as a health official wanting to perform COVID-19 tests - there are many imposters who may use this opportunity to rob and burglarise homes. Remember genuine field workers who will be visiting homes should have ID badges, carry their SA ID document/card and be accompanied by a police/metro officer. Stay safe!
Reporting online scams
The Reall411 website has been created to give the public the power to report digital disinformation, incitement and hate speech. The circulation of unfiltered messages online can allow hate speech to spread widely and quickly. Help stop the spread of disinformation, including that relating to COVID-19, by submitting your complaint here:
*Please note that Vodacom is not giving away 5GB of data to customers as has been mentioned on social media over the last week (30 March to 3 April 2020). This misinformation was spread when some of our customers were able to purchase the 5 Gig and/ or 10 Gig Night Owl data due to a brief system glitch, which has now been fixed. The data expired on 03 April at 23:59:59.