FBI Working to Counter Surge of COVID-19 Fraud, Cyber Division Head Says

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The senior official said the phenomenon is the latest example of criminals taking advantage of crises and government relief packages to conduct illicit activities. The bureau's Internet Crime Complaint Center has reportedly received several thousand complaints regarding scams

Amid a spike in the number of complaints on coronavirus-related cyber crime, the FBI has been working together with potential targets and others to tackle the threats, a senior official of the bureau said.

Assistant Director Matt Gorham, head of the FBI’s cyber division, said in a statement to AP that the uptick in such activity by malicious actors is nothing new.

"Unfortunately, there’s a lot of precedent for criminals taking advantage of natural disasters and government relief packages to conduct fraud, including through cyber means," Gorham said.

"From the start of this pandemic we’ve been able to quickly take new information gleaned from our investigations, consider other sources of intelligence, and share information which potential targets of this malicious activity can act on - including hospitals and research institutes."

According to the senior official, the bureau's Internet Crime Complaint Center has received more than 3,600 complaints regarding scams connected to COVID-19.

Last week, Gorham told AP that thanks to the availability of hacking tools, cybercrime is now easier than ever. "Today you can go into a dark web and purchase exploits with little to no understanding of how they actually work," he said.  "The threshold of entry has lowered to the point where almost anyone can become involved in a hack."

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