Interpol has warned of changing criminal patterns and increased threats in certain areas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement based on information from all 194 members, Interpol said evolving global threats include a marked increase in cyber threats including malicious domains, malware and ransomware, and health service providers and essential products outlets being targeted.
Other emerging threats include:
- Fraudulent and counterfeit trade in personal protective equipment (PPE) and anti-viral pharmaceuticals;
- Increased drug commerce via social media, encrypted apps, and the Darknet;
- Individuals and businesses on reduced incomes being potentially targeted by loan sharks.
Interpol also said that it is monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the police forces of its member states and whether it is hampering efforts to tackle the new criminal threats.
It issued a global threat assessment on crime and policing to all its members, including advice on best practice to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 related crimes.
Interpol secretary general Jürgen Stock said: “Law enforcement is learning precious lessons and fast.
“Lessons which need to be shared quickly for the benefit of our law enforcement colleagues who have yet to feel the full impact of Covid-19, and who are working hard preparing their agencies for it.
“The pandemic provides incentives and opportunities for criminal groups and where we have identified new trends, we have quickly shared these with our member countries.”
Those methods to tackle evolving crime include the use of drones, biometrics, and artificial intelligence.
With a significant proportion of the world’s population now in confinement as governments seek to limit the spread of the virus, Interpol said that the number of burglaries has dropped, but thieves are increasingly targeting factories or business premises which are standing empty.
It said there has also been a significant rise in domestic violence cases since the start of the global outbreak.
In another development, Interpol said in recent weeks there has been increased online activity by paedophiles seeking child sexual abuse material — a problem that is being exacerbated by a shortage of moderators who identify and remove offensive material from networks.
As for crimes directly related to the virus pandemic, it said purple notices have been issued in relation to increased ransomware attacks and new types of fraud specifically linked to Covid-19.