FinCEN Warns on Coronavirus Scams Demanding Crypto

FinCEN is warning cybercriminals are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic, and asks firms to be especially vigilant regarding their dealings with virtual currencies.

Jul 31, 2020 at 3:46 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:38 a.m. UTC

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a warning on COVID-19 related financial scams on Thursday. 

  • Firms dealing with virtual currencies need to be especially careful as their services might be used to launder funds collected from illicit activity, the regulator said. 
  • The advisory added attackers have been using phishing emails, malware and ransomware to carry out such attacks.
  • Referring to last month’s massive Twitter hack, FinCEN said the cybercrime techniques could also be applied to a larger attack involving social media.
  • That attack, which took over multiple big-name Twitter handles, involved a scam message seeking bitcoin for COVID-19 relief that would supposedly be doubled and donated.
  • According to a list of red flags compiled by FinCEN, indicators that can be used to identify fraudulent activity include unsolicited emails with attachments, text messages with embedded links, unusual URLs linked in emails and attached email images that seem to be digitally altered.
  • The warning added the shift to remote work has increased the vulnerability of firms to such attacks, and that cybercriminals have been targeting weak log-in processes by using digitally altered identity documents to gain access to sensitive information online. 

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.