The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released an alert that cybercriminals are trying to steal from state institutions and healthcare sector customers that are buying medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Healthcare sector customers were advised to be careful after having reports of rising cases of scams associated to the purchase of PPE and vital medical equipment like ventilators, that are in limited supply because of higher demand.
The FBI has gotten reports of a number of incidents of advance-fee scams. Government institutions and healthcare sector customers have wired funds to sellers and brokers of PPE and medical supplies and found out later that the suppliers were fraudsters.
There were a number of reported incidents of business email compromise (BEC) scams associated with the purchase of PPE and medical equipment as well. These scams involve the impersonation of brokers and sellers of products and services. The scammers make use of email addresses that are almost similar to the legit broker or vendor and ask to wire transfer the payments for the ordered products and services. The customers often only detect the scams after transferring the money and the scammer withdraws the money.
The FBI tells about one case where a person was tricked by a scammer to wire transfer funds to a business that professed to have an active business partnership with the purchasing company. The potential scam was only uncovered after the fund was transferred and the U.S law enforcement can no longer recover the money.
Prepayment for products like PPE and ventilators is popular, however, the risk of being swindled is high. In a lot of cases, prepayment for products gets rid of the ability to have another option.
Healthcare equipment purchasers must be leery of the following signs of a potential scam:
Contact is started by a broker or vendor of medical equipment or PPE, frequently by means of a channel that makes confirmation of the legitimacy of the vendor or dealer hard. I.e. preliminary contact originates from a personal email address or the offer is obtained over the phone.
The origin of the product is not clearly spelled out, including how the broker or seller has obtained a supply given the present high level of demand.
It is not possible to confirm with the manufacturer of the merchandise that the person presenting them for sale is a reputable merchant or distributor of the item, or it isn’t possible to confirm a reputable supply chain.
Any inexplicable haste for payment or last-minute alterations to payment methods used previously.
Any contact made by a seller or agent who states to have a business partnership with a current supplier ought to be confirmed by means of previously set up communication routes to confirm the legitimacy of the partnership.
If contact is made by a recognized or reliable vendor, meticulously check the contact data and email address to ensure it is legit. Keep an eye out for misspellings and transposed letters in email addresses.
Wherever possible, ask for an independent third party to confirm that the goods being presented for sale are physically present, and of the right make, model, and the type and take shipping instantly after payment is made. If not workable, make sure to make payment via a domestic escrow account which will only release the money if the products are obtained and confirmed to be correct.