Scammers Taking Advantage Of Covid-19 Crisis

Surge in scams that target the elderly ahead of election

As the general election draws closer, cyber security specialists have issued warnings about a potential surge in scams targeting the British public – especially the elderly. 

Historically, significant political events have been ‘fertile ground for criminals’, with ‘increased sophistication’ in scamming methods; according to Digital Marketing aficionado Craig Campbell – also known as ‘Craig Campbell SEO’. Campbell has released information regarding election based scams, phishing and donation requests ahead of July 4th.

The legal industry is a primary target for phishing scams, with more than 90 per cent of cyber attacks executed via phishing according to research by CISA. Phishing is a deceptive practice where cyber criminals pretend to be trustworthy entities to trick individuals, primarily clients, into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, often through misleading emails or messages.

According to firm Legado: ‘For UK law firms, where trust is paramount, the reputational damage from a phishing attack can be severe and enduring. A breach not only compromises client confidentiality but also undermines the firm’s credibility.’

A notable case involved a small-two partner law firm in County Durham, which was reprimanded by the ICO over a cyber attack on its system where fraudsters accessed funds on a probate matter.

Clients might receive an email seemingly from their solicitor, asking them to provide personal details or make a payment to a new account for legal fees, when in reality, the request is from a scammer imitating your solicitor’s communication.

A client might fall for such a trick because the email appears to come from their lawyer- complete with similar email address, logo, and language style. Additionally, the request seems plausible within the context of their ongoing legal matters, exploiting their trust and urgency to respond to their solicitor’s needs.

Campbell says: ‘Cybercriminals use phishing to send emails from legitimate sources such as political parties or election boards. These emails often contain links of attachments that, when clicked can install malware on a device.

‘Fraudsters can also set up fake websites or send out emails soliciting donations – these requests can be incredibly convincing mimicking branding and language from real political entities.

‘With the rise of social media, the spread of misinformation has become a powerful tool for scammers. Fake news stories are circulated to manipulate public opinion or cause confusion among voters.’

The SEO and cyber security expert, who has 22 years experience in the industry, advises that clients can take precautions to safeguard against digital threats. Campbell suggests that clients and firms can ‘double check the legitimacy of emails, websites and social media accounts before interreacting with them. Also look for verification badges on social media and ensure URLS are correct.’

According to Campbell, another way to protect against scammers is the use of security software by ‘ensuring that devices are up to date with security to protect against malware and phishing attempts.’

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