US government seizes COVID-19 domain being sold for BTC

US government seizes COVID-19 domain being sold for BTC

The U.S. government seized a COVID-19 domain after the seller attempted to trade it for Bitcoins (BTC) in a hackers’ forum.

The COVID-19 domain that was under the address coronaprevention.org has been seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia last April 24, according to an announcement.

The move follows Attorney General William Barr’s objective to take down fraudulent websites that take advantage of the pandemic to scam the public.

According to the announcement, the department’s priority is the “detection, investigation, and prosecution” of illicit activities related to coronavirus.

Seller nabbed after trying to transact with an undercover agent

In a warrant issued by the United States District Court, it noted that the seller attempted to offer the domain to an undercover agent of the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). According to the seller, it would be “genius” to use the domain to sell “fake testing kits.”

Domain seized by US Government

U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea expressed the agency’s firm commitment in hunting down malicious actors who prey on people’s fears amid the pandemic.

“We will not tolerate exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain,” said Shea.

According to William S. Walker, acting HSI Philadelphia Special Agent in Charge:

“Sadly, criminals are using the current pandemic as an opportunity to generate proceeds while so many Americans are suffering. Homeland Security Investigations and our partners will continue to aggressively pursue those who attempt to illegally capitalize on this crisis through illicit money-making schemes.”

The investigation currently handled by HSI Philadephia is still on-going.

Criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic to scam people

Just last week, Google announced that they were able to intercept around 18 million scams and phishing emails that are related to the pandemic.

Most of them are attached with malware that intends to steal personal information, like social media accounts, bank credentials, and other details, from unsuspecting individuals.

Google operates a machine learning model that identifies and filters these threats to make sure that it will not be able to victimize the users of the popular e-mail and web-browsing platform.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has already issued a warning long before, telling internet users to be wary of the new cryptocurrency scams related to the pandemic.

According to the FBI, cybercriminals have been using the pandemic as an opportunity to scam people through blackmail attempts, work-from-home scams, and other investment scams.

Images courtesy of Jack Moreh/Stockvault, Seizure Banner/Department of Justice

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