Beware of corona-crooks, impostors and swindlers

In times of crises, impostors and swindlers ride the wave of human naivety to advance their deceitful agenda. Con artists in Poland are attempting to take advantage of the current period of uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus conditions.

Cited by Poland’s “Rzeczpospolita” daily, the spokesman of the Police Headquarters Mariusz Ciarka said that “criminals have been sending text messages with specific links attached. It is with these links that they extort online banking logins and passwords, and also authorisation codes.”

According to the daily, the theft of private data occurs once the fraudulent link is clicked. “This way targets of the [cyber] attacks may lose savings. It’s no longer just about miraculous pills and herbs [sold for] PLN 100 [EUR 21.74] each,” the spokesman added.

Fighting fraudsters

The National Prosecutor’s Office has been proactive in tackling the extorters by establishing a special team that would prosecute criminals benefiting the prevailing coronavirus conditions. According to “Rzeczpospolita”, the prosecutor’s office has already launched an investigation into the matter.

Meanwhile, the Digital Affairs Ministry wrote that thanks to an agreement that it reached with Orange Poland, Polkomtel (Plus), P4 (Play) and T-Mobile Poland telephone network operators, a special warning blacklist is to be composed. Internet domains used by extorters to swindle personal data and funds will be put on that list, which will also be made public so that anyone can read it.

Moreover, using email or a special form, the public will be able to report a suspicious website to the Research and Academic Computer Network (NASK), which is a Polish research and development organization and data networks operator. The report will be immediately verified by cyber-sec specialists and if it is proven legitimate, the reported domain would be immediately put on the publicly-accessible warning blacklist. The fraudulent website would also end up banned.

In some cases, law enforcement would be informed. Any resulting investigations and pursuit actions in Poland and abroad will be conducted in cooperation with EUROPOL police services.

“All of the responsible law enforcement [agencies] have been reacting immediately,” Digital Affairs Minister Marek Zagórski said, adding that “in the most drastic cases, fraudsters will have to face criminal liability. It’s about, to the best of our capabilities, protecting citizens from con men who under the pretext of fighting the epidemic commit crime.”