Europol: Criminals Adapting and Taking Advantage of Coronavirus Outbreak

AP Photo/Mike Corder, File

The European Union police agency Europol has released a report claiming that criminals are adapting and taking advantage of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak through cybercrime, fraud, and counterfeit medical goods.

The agency stated in their March 2020 report that criminals across Europe were using the virus outbreak to carry out phishing email campaigns in order to install malicious software on victims looking for information on medical supplies and coronavirus.

Europol also warned of a heightened risk for child abuse online stating: “This is consistent with postings in dedicated forums and boards by offenders welcoming opportunities to engage with children whom they expect to be more vulnerable due to isolation, less supervision, and greater online exposure.”

This month also saw a cyberattack carried out on a hospital in the Czech city of Brno that forced the hospital to postpone surgeries and send patients to other hospitals.

Fraud is another major area in which criminals have sought to take advantage of the public, with the agency saying fraudsters would likely also attempt to exploit the situation after the pandemic is over, as well.

Europol also warned of the proliferation of counterfeit goods, especially medical supplies, saying: “The sale of counterfeit and/or sub-standard goods on and offline is booming in the pandemic economy.”

“There is a particularly high demand for certain types of healthcare and sanitary products (masks, gloves, cleaning products, pharmaceutical products), which has created a substantial market for product counterfeiters, fraudsters, and profiteers,” the agency added.

While not counterfeit, Chinese-made substandard masks and other medical supplies have been seen in both Spain and the Netherlands in recent weeks.

Spain received thousands of testing kits from China, only to reveal that the first batch of 9,000 tests did not work, while the Netherlands was forced to recall 600,000 defective masks that had been recently imported from China.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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