Distributor cautions that scammers and hackers are using pandemic to steal financial data, stimulus money
If you’re struggling to complete government assistance application forms or confused by the payout status, beware of scammers, hackers, and con-artists using the crisis as an opportunity to steal financial information and money, says Ingram Micro.
The Lowdown: Eric Kohl, vice president of the distributor’s Advanced Solutions group, which includes security technologies, issued his second letter to partners about the risks posed by fraudsters and hackers amid the COVID-19 crisis. In the note, Kohl said criminal elements are stealing stimulus money and financial data from businesses and individuals through fake offers of assistance.
The Details: Ingram Micro teamed with security service provider Proofpoint to provide partners — and their employees and family members — with guidance on how to detect and avoid COVID-19 scams. Ingram says criminals exploiting the crisis are using a variety of techniques, including text messages, social media, e-mails, phone calls, and bogus websites to trick businesses and individuals into giving up their financial data and money.
Ingram Micro is advising partners to provide information only to trusted official government sites such as the IRS and SBA, as well as banks authorized by government agencies to process and dispense funds. Additionally, Ingram says solution providers should ignore all solicitations for assistance in submitting and obtaining the status of aid applications.
The Impact: Ingram Micro does not cite any specific incidents that precipitated the warning. Security groups and the FBI have issued warnings of increases in hacker and criminal activity related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Background: The scam alert letter is the second warning of criminal activity issued by Ingram Micro. Earlier this month, Ingram issued an advisory to solution providers that criminals and fraudsters were using the COVID-19 crisis as a screen for submitting fake orders for products. In the order scam, criminals are using hacked e-mails to send purchase orders to solution providers for hardware; the orders give instructions to ship product to different locations other than the customer’s usual address. While Ingram noted an increase in fraudulent orders, other distributors report no unusual activity and say their fraud control measures are working to filter out bogus orders.
The Buzz: “Many of you are eligible to receive economic stimulus checks from the U.S. federal government in response to COVID-19 in the coming days. Unfortunately, criminals are actively exploiting the situation to steal stimulus funds, capture people’s personal information, or spread misinformation,” wrote Kohl in a warning letter to solution providers. “These individuals use a wide variety of methods to steal payments—including text messages, social media, e-mail, phone calls, and fake web pages.”