Stay safe during COVID-19: physically and virtually

Compiled by Bardia Khajenoori, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

While trying times can bring out some of the best in people, the reality is that they can also bring out some of the worst in people.

Criminals around the world, online and in-person, have been actively adapting their schemes to take advantage of widespread anxiety around COVID-19.

The below information can help you stay safe and vigilant while you’re staying healthy.

CID encourages vigilance to prevent COVID-19 Cyber Scams

by U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Public Affairs

QUANTICO, Va. — During this time of heightened awareness and protection against potential health risks associated with COVID-19, there is also an increased risk in scam methods used by cybercriminals.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command warns the Army community that some

phishing campaigns prey on would-be victims’ fear, while others capitalize on the opportunity created by hot topics in the news cycle.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents cybercriminals with a way to combine both into a dangerous one-two punch. Most recently, the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 interactive map has been hacked by cybercriminals. The hackers are selling copies of the interactive map as a malware tool used to steal passwords and user data. A significant number of additional coronavirus-related domains have been registered. CID officials warn users to not
open attachments or links in emails coming from such domains.

Army CID Special Agents are reminding people to be alert and suspicious and take extra steps to verify information before agreeing to anything that could put one’s personal or financial information at risk. According to CID officials, individuals should be suspicious of anyone who approaches or initiates contact regarding coronavirus; anyone not known, or with whom conversation was not initiated, who offers advice on prevention, protection or recovery — especially if they ask for money.

Wiesbaden mayor warns of Coronavirus scammers

Christine Straus, 2nd Theater Support Brigade, provided the following translation from a City of Wiesbaden press release this week. While this particular warning was specific to the Wiesbaden area, the technique could be used anywhere:

Wiesbaden mayor Dr. Oliver Franz, who also heads the Wiesbaden Legal Department, warns the Wiesbaden citizens of fake members of the local Health Authority (Gesundheitsamt). The scammers wear protective suits and face masks and try to gain access to the citizens’ houses and apartments.

The scammers would claim, for example, that they are testing for the coronavirus or that somebody living in the building contracted the virus and the other tenants were required to get tested for the virus as a result. Their real intent, however, is to distract the tenant while an accomplice would try to steal valuables from the tenant’s apartment. “Don’t let anybody scare or pressure you; don’t give strangers access to your home,” Mayor Franz said.

Report any instances of suspicious activity by using the iReport app, website, or link from the USAG Stuttgart Mobile App (in the “Emergency” menu”).