COVID-19 Website Seized After an Attempt to Sell the Domain For Bitcoin
On April 24, the office of the U.S. Attorney for Columbia District was authorized to seize coronaprevention.org. The Department was directed to detect, investigate, and prosecute the illicit conduct of the website’s owner which is related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seizure of coronaprevention.org website was due to the alleged attempt by its owner to sell the domain for Bitcoin. According to the United States authorities, the unidentified owner of the website attempted to sell the domain to an undercover agent with the Criminal Investigations unit of the Department of Homeland Security.
The purpose of the website was for the sales of fake COVID-19 testing kits. It was revealed in the warrant that the website owner listed the domain for sale on a forum where there are individuals who want to hack and hijack online accounts.
“The seller stated on the forum that this domain would be an effective way to sell “high markup in demand products.” The seller exponentially marked up the price of the domain. The seller asked for the payment to be made via bitcoin.”
The report noted that the website owner allegedly requested for $500 to be paid in Bitcoin for the domain from the undercover agent. The agent eventually sent a partial payment to an undisclosed Bitcoin address.
Based on the announcement of the Department of Justice, there has been disruption of numerous domains being utilized in schilling scams associated with COVID-19 pandemic.
Before now, the FBI warned people about scammers’ schemes taking advantage of increased fear and uncertainty regarding the pandemic to scam. The agency noted the increasing number of cryptocurrency scams related to COVID-19 pandemic.
People have been encouraged to verify vendors’ legitimacy and report blackmail and extortion attempts to law enforcement. At the moment, more than 2.8 million individuals have contracted COVID-19, and more than 197,000 individuals have died globally.