Fraudsters target coronavirus fears with fake BTC donations drive

Scammers are never far from disaster, seemingly constantly in search of opportunities to defraud or steal from unsuspecting victims. Now a new digital scam has been uncovered, asking for donations in BTC to fund the fightback against coronavirus.

A number of fake emails have been uncovered this week, asking for BTC donations to the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. These have been confirmed to be fraudulent, with scammers keen to exploit the generosity of those trying to help in dealing with the impact of the global pandemic.

Chester Wisniewski, a researcher at cybersecurity company Sophos, said people should take care when parting with their digital currency: “Don’t donate Bitcoin to crooks… Send the money to the real deal.”

The fake emails appeal for digital currency donations to “enable all countries to track and detect the disease…send personal protective equipment to frontline health workers…enable communities to prevent infection and care for those in need…and accelerate efforts to fast-track the development of lifesaving vaccines.”

The scam attempts to pass off as the genuine WHO fund, which is currently accepting donations through its official website. At the moment, there is no support for digital currency donations, only fiat, so any appeals for digital currency are by definition illegitimate.

Companies like Google and Facebook have already backed the genuine fund, which is looking to raise some $675 million by the end of April. Those looking to donate to the cause should take care to do so only through the official channel

The fraud is only one of a number of digital currency scams emerging around the pandemic, seeking to exploit unsuspecting victims during the ongoing global health crisis. Recently discovered, a fake app called COVID-19 Tracker has been hijacking users’ phones and threatening to reveal social media accounts publicly if victims don’t pay $100 in BTC to buy their way out.

The unfortunate developments around these BTC scams underline the need for caution, with digital currency users urged to take care when sending funds to unknown sources.

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