The coronavirus pandemic has not just caused a global health scare, but it has also impacted the livelihoods of billions around the globe due to mandatory shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus.
Many governments have decided to help the citizens in these troubled times by offering stimulus checks and cash relief including countries in and of Europe, Canada and the United States.
The United States has been the worst hit given the number of cases have reached over 1.5 million and thousands have perished to the disease. The outbreak of pandemic also saw one of the worst unemployment crisis in U.S. history as millions registered as unemployed in hopes of getting a stimulus check, and the unemployment rate peaked at 14.7%.
While the federal government has decided to help the unemployed in the ongoing pandemic, the unemployment checks meant to help the needy are now being targeted by scammers.
The U.S. Secret Service has alleged that they have evidence of sophisticated scamming machinery targeting these welfare checks which can steal hundreds of millions of dollars.
A New York Times report suggested that these scammers were filing false benefit claims disguised as people who were not unemployed and they might be using personal information gathered from earlier cyber attacks. The memo read,
“It is assumed the fraud ring behind this possesses a substantial P.I.I. Database to submit the volume of applications observed thus far.”
Nigerian Scammers Could be Behind the Sophisticated Attacks
A secret service memo suggested that the way these attacks are being carried out and the sophistication of these scams are quite similar to the organized scams carried out by Nigerian scammer groups.
These scammers held detailed information about U.S. citizens, including their social security numbers. Agencies since tasked with aiding unemployment checks realized the grave problem quickly.
Washington state has emerged as the primary target, while there have been reported cases of such scams in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming as well.
Back in April, the cybersecurity officials have warned about the increase in cybercrimes amid lockdown and how these cybercriminals have changed the tactics and sophistication level to pray on the insecurities of people looking for jobs.
Amid growing cyber crimes and misuse of data, many have suggested the use of blockchain to tackle the authenticity of the data since the technology is immutable and not controlled through a centralized system.
With the correct implementation of blockchain, government agencies can track the relief funds and ensure that these funds reach the right people.