Security Awareness: How to Recognize "Current Event" Email Fraud


Cybercriminals often capitalize on current events to spread malware, gain access to personal information, or attract money to fake fundraisers and fake charity requests.  

"Current event" scams can present a variety of topics.  Recent examples include:

  • Coronavirus
  • Political Elections
  • Tornadoes
  • Wildfires

In particular this year, there have been many attempts to attract response by phishing emails that purport to relate to the pandemic.

How Do I Spot a Coronavirus Phishing Email?

Coronavirus-themed phishing emails can take different forms, including those described here.

Health Advice Emails

Phishers have sent emails that offer purported medical advice "to help protect you against the coronavirus" or for fraudulent coronavirus grants. These emails might claim to be from medical experts near Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began or from the United States government. Such emails may be spreading misinformation, or they may be an attempt to get your personal information.  Here is an example of a fake health-advice email:

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CDC Alerts 

Cybercriminals have sent phishing emails designed to look like they are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Like other types of phishing emails, these email messages usually try to lure you into clicking on a link or providing personal information that can be used to commit fraud or identify theft.  Below is an example, with some of the problematic areas - things you can watch for - highlighted to indicate if the sender is an impostor!  Scroll down for more tips on how to identify these "phishy" emails!