The internet is flooded with Covid-19 relief resources also giving space to fraudsters who are taking advantage of this unfortunate situation. Learn how you can spot and prevent Covid-19 related cybercrimes and where you can report them.

The second wave of Coronavirus has exposed the health infrastructure of India where citizens are seeking help through social media platforms. Where some people are volunteering in accumulating COVID relief resources on these platforms, the reports of fraud have also started coming from different parts of the country. During such a time, you need to be aware of the Covid-19 related cybercrimes or cyber fraud and trust only verified sources. Here are some of the frauds been observed on social media and the ways to prevent them.

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1. Fake oxygen suppliers

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India is facing an acute shortage of oxygen supply due to which people are looking for contacts of suppliers on social media. In the past few weeks, netizens have been complaining about contacts who take money for oxygen cylinders and concentrators in advance and immediately block the recipient’s number after receiving the money.

How to prevent:

It’s important to avoid making payments in advance. If possible, try to take the office address of the supplier and visit the place to take the product. If the supplier is offering home delivery, make the payment once you receive it. If you lack time to personally visit the office and the supplier is insisting on making the payment in advance, ask for their PAN no. or GST no. but don’t make the full payment. If the supplier sends you the bank account details, don’t forget to verify the location with that of the supplier. Moreover, if you have to pay online, ask for a proper Pro Forma invoice/estimate to be sent to you.

2. Fake medicine suppliers

Since mid-March, the demand for medicines like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, Favipiravir, etc. that are being used in the treatment of Coronavirus is on the rise. Though the efficacy of these medicines has not been proved yet, scammers are not leaving any chance to take advantage of the demand. Pretending to be distributors of these medicines, they are cheating people by either selling fake medicines or blocking the numbers after receiving a payment.

How to prevent:

Presently, the medicines like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab are not being supplied to the distributors. Anybody claiming to have these two medicines are likely to be fraudsters. Hospitals are responsible to provide these medicines to patients in India. However, don’t get admitted to the hospital just to take the medicines. In case, the hospital asks you to arrange the medicines on your own, you need to contact/visit the office of the drug collector of your district with the prescription of the patient to get the medicines. International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) suggests that people must buy medicines from licensed suppliers who display an authenticity certificate. You can also check the list of registered dispensaries at your local health regulatory body.

3. Fake claims of COVID testing

Since a lot of people are complaining about the symptoms of Coronavirus, the COVID tests like RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen are conducted on a large scale. Seeing it as an opportunity, the fraudsters are claiming to conduct the tests and even visit the houses of the people to take the sample. However, after taking the money and the sample, they immediately disappear.

How to prevent:

Always book a test with the labs that are approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research. If the name of the lab is not approved, type the name of the lab and add fraud after it and search. This can lead to tweets or other posts shared by people on social media if the lab is fake. Further, verify the cost of the test with other labs. If the lab is asking much more or much less than the capped price, there can be the chances of fraud. It would be better to book the same lab from where your known ones have got the valid reports.

Where to report the fraud:

The crime committed through online platforms is called cybercrime. To report the fake oxygen and medical suppliers, or any other COVID-19 related cybercrimes, you need to register your complaint with the national cybercrime reporting portal. You can also check the portal to learn the ways of prevention from various cyber crimes prevalent in the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to register the complaint – Cyber Crime Reporting Portal.

On the other hand, you can file a complaint against the fake testing labs in the nearby police stations.

Note: Do not share or forward unverified messages or sources for COVID-19 relief resources. Always mention if the sources are unverified.

Don’t let your anxiousness be an excuse for someone to cheat you.

Also Read: COVID-19 Resources: All-in-One Curated list of Government and Community-Led Database

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