Police take ten scam coronavirus webshops offline

Over the past weeks, the Dutch police took down ten web shops who were selling coronavirus related scams. These online stores offered items ranging from antibacterial bank cards, to a Covid-19 tracker, and included multiple web shops offering medical masks for sale, the police said in a statement. 

According to the police, anti-coronavirus measures restricting people to their homes, combined with uncertainty and the need for information that entails, make fertile ground for cyber criminals. The police haven't seen a noticeable increase in online crime, but did notice that criminals are taking advantage of current events. For example, a fake email made to look like it came from the RIVM was infecting computers with malware. And there was a fake WhatsApp message about a benefit for people out of work due to the virus, through which criminals tried to get bank details.

The national hotline for online fraud LMIO received many reports about suspicious web shops offering corona related products over the past weeks. Investigation resulted in 10 such online stores being taken offline. "We are trying to thwart criminals and disrupt their fraudulent practices so that no more people are victims,' Gijs van der Linden of LMIO said. "We take the measure that has the fastest effect, the most effect. That's not always looking for the one behind it."

The police warn that cyber criminals will continue to abuse this crisis for as long as it continues. "It is therefore important that people also take precautions themselves," said Theo van der Plas, program manager of Digitization and Crime at the police. "For example, by properly securing devices. We hear that older computers are dusted off so that every family member can work at home. Then make sure that the security is up to date with the most recent anti-virus programs."

"It also doesn't hurt to take a critical look at your passwords use a long sentence for that," Van der Plas advised. "And never just click on a link. Official authorities and banks never ask for personal information via text message, email or app."

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