US General Services Administration (GSA) Warns of COVID-19 Fraud and Price Gouging as Coronavirus Related Scams Increase
The US General Services Administration (GSA) is waning that companies are representing themselves as GSA approved vendors in an attempt to profiteer from Coronavirus related sales. In an email, GSA also stated that companies are attempting to price gauge US government agencies for products related to the outbreak. All government buyers are cautioned to take the time to verify the vendors status and pricing schedule with the GSA Procurement system.
Companies attempting to exploit legitimate COVID-19 concerns to mislead govenrment buyers and consumers into paying exorbitant prices for products associated with outbreak should be reported.
What Does GSA Do?
GSA manages vendors and services for all government agencies to make sure the US Government is not paying prices higher than market value. However, the US Government is notorious for overpaying for purchases.
What Does It Mean to Be GSA Approved?
When a company has GSA approval status that means is it authorized to sell goods and services to United States Government agencies through the U.S. General Services Administration. An approved company may also be described as being “on schedule” meaning the company has a GSA schedule of prices on file. The GSA Schedule is essentially a set of negotiated contracts that government agencies can shop from for standardized pricing.
Supplier status with the US governments procurement system can be verified on the GSA Advantage website. Supplies can also provide a contract number and supplier details which can be verified online at the GSA library vendor database.
Businesses can sell to the public and through the GSA system simultaneously. For example, Home Depot is on the GSA schedule.
What is General Services Administration or GSA?
The GSA acronym stands for the General Services Administration, an agency of the United States government. The General Services Administration is a federal agency of the United States government to qualify and manage procurement of goods and services for federal agencies. GSA also manages government buildings, real estate, and vehicles. US GSA is located in Washington, DC and was established in 1949
Fraudulent activity by companies claiming to be GSA vendors or price gouging by from authorized GSA vendors can be reported to GSA’s National Customer Service Center. Call 800-488-3111 or email NCSCcustomer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 Email Scams
There have been numerous online scams related to the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, outbreak including malware attacks and phishing scams targeting private citizens and healthcare workers. The GSA fraud is just another series of fraudulent activities. Early phishing emails were sent to citizens across Asia who were seeking information about COVID-19. The content of the phishing emails attempted to trick readers into thinking they were reading official communications from the World Health Organization (WHO.) The scam emails even contained some helpful statistics and details of outbreaks. Other emails positiontoned the content to make it appear that the content was from local authorities. These emails contained malicious attachments which launched malware campaigns if the readers opened the attachments.
More recent email scams have targeted healthcare workers, nursing homes, and hospitals.
Hackers have ramped up scam tactics by registering thousands of Coronavirus related website domain names. Although some of these websites may be used for legitimate purposes, it is estimated that about one-third are hacker websites selling malware and stolen information.
One high-profile target, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracking map, is a favorite for spoofed domain names.
State sponsored Advanced persistent threat (APT) groups are also jumping by sending Coronavirus themed phasing email to defense industries, embassies, and governments attempting to launch RAT malware.