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The University of Southampton
Centre for Risk Research

COVID-19 and the risk of being deceived

Published: 31 March 2020
Dr Hanoch

Dr Yaniv Hanoch, an Associate Professor of Risk Management and member of the Centre for Risk Research (CRR), has recently published two articles that highlight how unscrupulous individuals are currently engaging in scams that exploit people’s concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The articles, which have been published in the popular news platforms Salon and New Europe, explain how scammers have been employing tactics that enable them to obtain personal information from unsuspecting individuals or that motivate individuals to purchase items unnecessarily. The articles explain that these tactics exploit growing concerns about the effects of COVID-19 or about the ability to access important resources, such as food and medicine, while restrictions are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Dr Hanoch explained that the scammers are using a wide variety of long-established tactics to lure consumers into unnecessary purchases or to reveal private data. He said “To give just one example, it is well-known that when individuals perceive items as scarce or rare they become more motivated to acquire them. Scammers have already been exploiting this principle by convincing individuals that certain products (e.g., toilet tissues, face masks, hand sanitizers, medicines) are in short supply (e.g., “only one left!”, “sale ends today!”). Scammers capitalise on these heightened public concerns by raising prices or not even delivering the products.”

Dr Ian Dawson, the Director of the CRR, said “It is sad that there are so many people who seek to exploit others at a time when cooperation and altruism are vital components in the collective efforts to address the risks posed by COVID-19. Therefore, it is great that Dr Hanoch and his co-authors have highlighted this issue. Importantly, the articles explain the range of tactics that are being used to deceive people and it offers expert advice on how people can avoid being victims of these tactics.”

To view the full article in Salon by Dr Hanoch and his co-authors, please click here: Here's how scammers are exploiting coronavirus fears.

To view the full article in New Europe by Dr Hanoch and his co-author, please click here: During times of crisis, scammers can easily capitalise on fear and confusion.

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