WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal government launched a new website in January to help distribute free at-home COVID-19 test kits to U.S. citizens; no sooner did this website go live, so did numerous copycat websites, none of which were legitimate, but many sporting very similar URLs in an attempt to run a scam on unsuspecting visitors.
In mid-January, the Biden Administration announced a free COVID-19 test kit program, with the kits being distributed via the U.S. Postal Service directly to the homes of Americans who signed up online at https://www.covidtests.gov, which has been in service since January 18. There is also a companion website to place your order directly with the USPS (https://special.usps.com/testkits).
Experts in cybersecurity are pointing out that a huge number of copycat websites with similarly-spelled URLs are being used not to deliver COVID test kits, but instead to run scams on unsuspecting people. Reports indicate the current count at approximately 600 domains and growing, according to the number of registrations since January 15.
Often these websites are very convincing – designed to look nearly identical to government websites, and containing official-sounding verbiage – but visitors are normally being set up for phishing attacks or other scams designed to steal their personal information for nefarious purposes, experts say.
Some of the identified scam COVID test kit sites were using the domains “4covidtests.com”, “covidrests.com”, “specialsps.com” and “spwcialusps.com” (all of which have been taken offline).
It is highly encouraged that you NOT visit these sites. In addition, if you receive emails from a party that you are not personally familiar with, never download or open any files that may be attached. Even links are discouraged and they can be discussed or redirect to places which look authentic.
Here are some email phishing attacks you can check out:
- Amazingly Convincing Facebook Phishing Scam Takes Place on Facebook.com Itself
- This AMEX Email Phishing Scam Wants You Homeless & Poor, With A Zero FICO Score
- Email Phishing Campaign Using Legitimate Top-Level Domain to Evade Spam Filters
- FedEx Email Phishing Scam Attempt: Not That Clear What Actual Motive Is
- Phishing: Watch-out for New Dangerous GoDaddy Email Phishing Attempt
Unfortunately, online scams are nothing new, and have become synonymous with daily internet life; however, this malady has been ramped up significantly during the pandemic, with fraudsters taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of COVID-weary individuals. According to the FBI, COVID-related online scams have allowed thieves to steal approximately $1.8 billion from U.S. individuals and organizations in 2020.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®