Buffalo FBI Office Warns Of Pandemic Scams
Cybercriminals like to take advantage of us while other issues tend to occupy our time and FBI agents nationally and locally are working to protect the public from fraud and exploitation.
Local FBI spokesperson Maureen Dempsey describes how cybercriminals are using the COVID-19 crisis to tap into the fears of people.
“They’ve also been creative in terms of trying to scam the medical community,” she said.
One of the ploys being used involves thieves asking companies to send money to different bank accounts. Dempsey says the FBI recently put out an alert to medical professionals to be careful about online financial transactions.
This is known as a business email compromise (BEC), targeting people who are authorized to make fund transfers.
“They’d infiltrate your system. They’re aware that you normally make orders for gowns, or masks, equipment,” Dempsey explained. “And they kind of sneak into your system. They either send you an email and you click on a link, or else they’ve already been in your system.”
Scammers will oftentimes send a last-minute notice directing an individual to send a wire transfer to a different account.
“Just be careful if there’s any last-minute changes to where you should be sending your money.”
Dempsey advises companies...don’t be afraid to question suspicious emails.
The other cyber issue to always be alert for involves children accessing the Internet.
Schools are closed and kids are spending more time online doing schoolwork, engaging with friends, and gaming.
Dempsey says it’s important for parents to check privacy settings on devices and tell their children that they won’t get in trouble for alerting them to a problem.
“Don’t hesitate to have repeated conversations with your kid about online safety,” Dempsey said. “Your kids need to be reminded and told that it’s not their fault if they make a mistake.”
The FBI recommends the following measures of protection:
Discuss Internet safety with children of all ages when they engage in online activity.
Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded. Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices.
Monitor your children’s use of the Internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.
Check your children’s profiles and what they post online. Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the Internet.
Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult and law enforcement.
Remember that victims should not be afraid to tell law enforcement if they are being sexually exploited. It is not a crime for a child to send sexually explicit images to someone if they are compelled or coerced to do so.
If you think that you’ve been defrauded or compromised by cyber thieves, it’s best to contact your local law enforcement agency, or file a complaint by going to IC3.gov, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“Even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, we are still here for you,” Dempsey added.