Unfortunately, the past few days have seen the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly worsen; according to websites tracking the spread of this novel coronavirus, there are now over 480,000 confirmed cases, a majority of which are now located outside of China, with hotspots appearing in the U.S., Italy, Germany, Spain, and effectively the rest of Europe.
With this spread, immense stress has been put on local healthcare workers, with reports indicating that supplies of key items, like respirators for those infected and masks for those tending to the patients, are running low.
As a result, there’s been a mass mobilization of industry — with companies from Apple and Tesla to Dyson (yes, the vacuum company) and Ford making supplies or contributing dollars to stem the spread and to keep our health workers alive. Many have called it the biggest mobilization since the Second World War.
Crypto firms have joined in, too, with a swath of leading industry players announcing charity initiatives over the past few days.
Worsening Coronavirus Outbreak Spurs Binance, Ripple, & Others To React
On March 25th, Binance revealed that it will be launching a social media campaign with the below tweet, telling its followers that it will donate $1 USD (up to $1 million) for each retweet with the accompanying hashtag #CryptoAgainstCOVID, with a bonus of $1 million donated if one million retweets can be hit in a week.
Binance’s charity arm, BCF, is also purportedly matching coronavirus donations paid in crypto.
If we hit 1 million retweets within 7 days, @BinanceBCF will donate an extra $1,000,000 USD!
— Binance (@binance) March 25, 2020
Ripple has followed suit, revealing on March 25th its “commitment to being part of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic:
We’re starting in our own backyard with $100K donations each to @tippingpoint’s COVID emergency response fund and @siliconvalleycf’s COVID Regional Response Fund.
There’s also been a collective effort from top crypto companies, including Brave, Gemini, The Block, Electric Coin Co., and others, through The Giving Block’s #CryptoCOVID19 campaign.
As this virus continues to spread, there’s likely to be further mobilization by corporations, both in the crypto and out of it, to fight it.
COVID-19 Crypto Scams Called Out by California’s Governor
Although crypto for good amid this crisis, there have been some actors that have been using this technology to their advantage as the coronavirus has spread.
Governor of California Gavin Newsom touched on this in a Tuesday broadcast regarding steps his constituents should be taking amidst the outbreak of COVID-19:
Make sure we’re not being taking advantage of. In this environment, there are extraordinary people and people do extraordinarily bad things, […] the people claiming we need to send a dollar equivalent of Bitcoin in advance to get some materials — questionable activities like that.
Governor Gavin Newsom just mentioned bitcoin during his COVID-19 announcement. pic.twitter.com/Z6TsnfT6XY
— Vis (@Vis_in_numeris) March 25, 2020
Unfortunately, what Newsom is saying is accurate.
Sophos cybersecurity researcher Chester Wisniewski reported on March 19th that there have been scammers “impersonating the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, writing directly to individuals asking for Bitcoin payments to a certain address to help “support WHO’s work to track and understand the spread of the virus.”
The scammers impersonating the @WHO COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund are evolving. First samples seen on 16 March and have put a bit more spit and polish on the 18 March run. Please donate to the real fund here: https://t.co/MfggnADyKF pic.twitter.com/FVwbbSmN4e
— Chester Wisniewski (@chetwisniewski) March 19, 2020
There have also been reports of scammers requesting Bitcoin in exchange for a ‘vaccine’ and ‘medical care’ from shady actors who are trying to leverage fear for profit.
Fortunately, cybersecurity firms and experts have been on top of their game in calling out this devious behavior, ensuring that the public is mostly kept safe amid these times of trouble.