Hundreds of fraudulent websites were discovered as the public took an interest in antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine hyped by public figures.
These pages, however, are offering COVID-19 treatments that are known to have dangerous effects.
Scammers used antimalarial drugs to profit off coronavirus crisis
NormShield researchers have discovered a total of 362 newly built phishing webpages offering medications to coronavirus that are still in question.
Most of the sites are reportedly using antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as well as Remdesivir—a potential COVID-19 cure currently in testing—as baits.
The sites were up since January, according to the report. However, the uptick happened when prominent personalities with no medical background such as U.S. President Donald Trump, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro have repeatedly endorsed the drugs despite warnings from scientists.
Google Trends data also showed a massive spike in interest on the questionable coronavirus “cures” right after said public figures tweeted about it.
HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE & AZITHROMYCIN, taken together, have a real chance to be one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine. The FDA has moved mountains – Thank You! Hopefully they will BOTH (H works better with A, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents)…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 21, 2020
Phishing is the act of deceiving people to give their personal information. However, Officer Bob Maley, NormShield Chief Security, said that these coronavirus profiteers are more likely to extract money from victims through selling the said drugs without shipping any product.
These fraudulent sites may have caused a deeper problem as well. According to DFA, the increase in demand on two malarial drugs that are currently being used to treat lupus has caused a shortage.
Scientists also warned that these drugs are dangerous and may trigger serious side effects. There is no evidence yet whether hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, and remdesivir can cure COVID-19.
Rita Wilson warns about controversial coronavirus cure chloroquine
Rita Wilson, in her recent TV interview with CBS, talked about how she and her husband, Tom Hanks, fought off COVID-19. The couple was among the first celebrities who disclosed their health status concerning coronavirus.
According to the 63-year-old actress, she was given the antimalarial drug chloroquine on her ninth day of treatment as her symptoms continue to get worse. Her fever dropped after taking the drug. However, she experienced an extreme series of side effects.
“The chloroquine had such extreme side effects. I was completely nauseous. I had vertigo. I could not walk, and my muscles felt very weak.”
Rita Wilson also shared her sentiments about people taking an interest in chloroquine. She said she was not sure if the drug worked or if the timing was just right before her fever broke.
She also warned the public to be very careful and considerate about chloroquine as “we don’t really know if it is safe in this case.”
Featured image courtesy of Geralt/Pixabay