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COVID-19: Europol eliminates 2,500 links in a week and warns that fraud is growing

With confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide growing, cybercrime is also on the rise. More hours in telecommuting and the increase in time spent online, coupled with fear, which "becomes the business opportunity" of criminals, have been the "recipe" for this to happen. The European Commission (EC) president, Ursula von der Leyen, guaranteed this Tuesday the results of an operation by the European Police Service (Europol), which has been combating online fraud.

Treatments dubbed miraculous and new vaccines from COVID-19 have been flooding the Internet since the virus became a worrying reality, something that did not leave Europol indifferent. Last week, the European agency confirmed that it carried out an operation that involved 90 countries around the world between March 3 and 10, and released the results of the strategy.

At a time when not even the World Health Organization itself has been immune to attack attempts, a total of 2,500 links have been eliminated, between websites, social networks, online markets and advertisements. Europol data also reveals that the operation led to the arrest of 121 people and a total of 13 million euros in potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals seized.

Of the 326,000 inspected packages, 48,000 were seized, but more serious is the number of illicit pharmaceutical product units seized worldwide: 4.4 million. Finally, 37 organized crime groups were dismantled.

Now, the EC president highlights the importance of this operation and ensures that Europe is working with the governments of each country and agencies to respond to this problem and to keep Europeans safe. In the face of this exceptional situation, Ursula von der Leyen also reinforces some of Europol's advice regarding each person's online behavior.

Appealing in the installation of apps that allegedly register the symptoms of COVID-19, the President of the EC also advises Europeans to check if the entities that develop certain sites are reliable. "If a vaccine against COVID-19 is effectively developed, governments and public institutions will announce it," he says.