“Congress has recently passed a large COVID-19 relief and stimulus package. As with other aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, fraudsters are exploiting the relief and stimulus to victimize the public. The U.S. Secret Service is observing a rise in stimulus relief fraud over the past several days and expect the fraud attempts to continue
throughout the pandemic. Criminal actors are using a variety of means to contact potential victims. In one instance, the criminal actors are using spoofed email addresses posing as U.S. Treasury officials requesting that the victim provide personal identifying information (PII), so that they can receive their share of the stimulus.
Other than via email, criminal actors are contacting potential victims via SMS/text, robocalls, and other messaging platforms. Through texts, criminal actors are sending links which directs individuals to a website,
which then prompts the potential victim to enter PII and other sensitive information, such as bank account numbers, email addresses, and passwords.
Official stimulus/relief information regarding COVID-19 will never be sent via text/SMS or on any other messaging platforms.
The U.S. Secret Service stresses that individuals seeking information about the stimulus/relief program to contact the specific government agency via its website for guidance. Individuals should follow protocols published by those government websites. During this time, it is stressed that the public maintain an increased vigilance when providing any PII or other privileged and protected information.” -The United States Secret Service
“By remembering these four tips, you can protect yourself and help stop this criminal activity:
(1) do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don’t recognize;
(2) always verify the information being shared originates from a legitimate source;
(3) do not provide your logins, financial data or other personal information in response to an email; and
(4) visit websites by manually inputting their domains to your browser.
If you believe you are the victim of an internet scam or want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
For more information about the rise in fraud schemes related to COVID-19, go to: https://www.ic3.gov/media/