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Cybercriminals in LatAm Try Cashing in On People’s Fear over COVID-19

Cybercriminals in Latin America are trying to cash in on people’s fear over coronavirus, with hackers employing a variety of tricks to lure unsuspecting individuals into their net.

In Costa Rica, according to Insight Crime, fraudsters have launched a mobile app called COVIDlock, pretending to provide ‘inside information’ about the pandemic in their area.

Once people download the app, the hackers hijack their device and demand ransom in cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. Earlier this month, several banks and judicial officials reported scams related to unemployment benefits, electronic tax payments, and social services in Costa Rica.

In Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Mexico, phishing schemes are becoming widespread. Criminals send emails to people, telling them that they can now seek financial aid from the government in the wake of the pandemic.

Those who fall into this trap end up revealing many of sensitive information. Later, hackers use the same data to blackmail their victims.

Colombian police registered more than 150 cyber fraud cases during the third week of March, according to Cali’s El País.

In Mexico, cyber experts are warning that criminals might capitalize on the country’s work-at-home trend to target the country’s financial and retailing businesses.

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“As governments impose stricter quarantine measures to fight back the coronavirus pandemic, individuals, corporations, and critical infrastructure are vulnerable to attack,” says Insight Crime, the foundation dedicated dispensing security-related news from across the region.

Analysts say countries with the largest economies — Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina — are the most likely to be targeted by cybercriminals.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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