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In this photo Illustration hands typing on a computer keyboard on June 22, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus.

Online criminals know the right words to use to catch users’ attention: promises of a coronavirus vaccine or access to your stimulus check.

“There’s been a 667% increase in phishing emails just since the beginning of March,” Tego Cyber CEO Shannon Wilkinson said.

The Las Vegas-based cyber security expert said scammers are phishing for a profit.

“They’ll send out information pretending to be trusted sources like the World Health Organization or the CDC,” she said.

Hackers are baiting victims by email, convincing people to click on bogus links or to buy dupes of popular products.

“One of my favorites that I received during this whole toilet paper craze, I got an email that my order from Charmin had been processed,” Wilkinson said. “If I could just click on this link and verify some information … of course I haven't ordered toilet paper.”

Wilkinson said anytime there’s a health epidemic or natural disaster, online predators are ready to pounce.

“They’re taking the interest, the curiosity and public panic around coronavirus and using that to scam people,” she said.

With millions of Americans staying home that means they’re also working from home, accessing sensitive company data, and using their credit cards to shop online.

“A lot of companies were probably set up for allowing a certain percentage of their workforce to work remote,” she said. “But now 100% of their workforce or 99% is working remote and that's put a strain on a lot of companies infrastructure as well.”

There is some good news. It seems even scammers care about their health.

“Two cyber criminal groups have come out and said they will not target health care organizations during this crisis,” Wilkinson said.

But she added that is not a reason to be careless online.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of phishing,” she said. “Everybody is at home, everybody is online everybody is at their email now.”

Scammers are not just online. They’re also targeting victims over the phone, through text and in-person. To report a scam, call the Nevada Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Hotline: 702-486-3132 or file a report online here.

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved


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(1) comment


Big middle-finger shout-out to ALL telemarketers, not just those doing these COVID-19 spam-scams. People are more in need than ever of their phones to stay in touch with family members in isolation. Yet these scummy robo-callers are at it WORSE THAN EVER, tying up our cells with their SCAMS.

Disgusting as always, but even more disgusting during this pandemic.

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