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Phishing emails promise Belgians a €250 Covid-19 premium

Credit: PxFuel

A phishing email is making its way to Belgian inboxes, linking to an impressive fake version of the Flemish government’s website and promising recipients a €250 Covid-19 premium.

Phishing specialists found the email to be very professionally done, HLN reports. The common scam aims to obtain banking information via a seemingly legitimate link. The login information is then used to empty the victim’s bank accounts.

“These types of emails used to be written in flawed Dutch or bad English, but we can see that phishing scammers are getting more and more intelligent,” Flemish ombudsman Bart Weekers told HLN.

“This phishing email was very dangerous because it combines two things that people put a lot of trust in. Firstly, the email is visually very similar to the federal government’s secure email service.”

“Secondly, the message refers to Covid-19 premiums, which are being granted at a higher rate and to more target groups than usual. In that sense, people are quick to think that they qualify for these premiums.”

The email linked to the website www.overheid-vlaanderen.be, which is similar to the Flemish government’s official website of www.overheid.vlaanderen.be . The site has now been blocked.

According to Weekers, the government’s IT-services were relatively quick to intercept the emails. The first email was composed last Thursday and sent to Belgium from Panama.

Due to their fast response, the phishing scam likely affected less than 100 people.

“I have no leads to show that this phishing email has done more damage than comparable phishing scams,” Weeker said.

The ombudsman does warn that it is not unlikely that similarly sophisticated phishing emails may present themselves in the future.

When in doubt, recipients are advised to check the official government website or to call the government line 1700.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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