It’s not just email scammers are using to target people who’re concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. Masses of text messages are being sent out to Americans, with one pushing a fake Fox News article promoting CBD oil as a treatment for the virus.
According to researchers at telecoms security provider AdaptiveMobile, amongst a wave of spam texts are messages with offers on masks, survival guides and medically-unsupported COVID-19 treatments like CBD oil.
And one of those messages promoting CBD oil as a potential cure includes a link, which takes the user to a fabricated Fox News article on the apparent benefits of the supplement.
Links within that article then takes the user to other fake sites where they’re asked to sign up and buy CBD oil. “Regardless of their efficacy, whether the recipient would actually receive any of these items is uncertain,” AdaptiveMobile wrote in a report on Thursday.
Other scam text messages include those offering payday loans of up to $5,000 and alerts for breaking “emergency” news on COVID-19 spreading in the recipient’s area.
AdaptiveMobile is also tracking the number of spam messages scammers are sending out. It’s seen a leap since last week, when below 1% of all SMS spam was related to coronavirus, rising to 6.5% on March 17. “Our estimates would be that on March 17, that a range of tens of thousands to low hundreds of thousands of people in the US were targeted by SMS Spam coronavirus-related attacks. Most of these would have been blocked, but some can get through as spammer adjust and change their attacks.”
There’s a simple thing affected Americans can do: forward the text message to their carrier at 7726. Otherwise, the advice from AdaptiveMobile’s Cathal McDaid was simple: “Stay safe, wash your hands, and don’t click on strange links.”