International crime adapts to pandemic rapidly, Interpol chief warns

Interpol head Juergen Stock, in an interview with dpa on Monday, warned the world would see a sharp rise in the illegal trade in fake medical products once a coronavirus vaccine or medication was on the horizon. He pointed to the recent appearance of uncertified personal protective equipment such as medical face masks, or fake hand sanitizer, as an indication of what could happen.

"There will be another big wave, a global wave, once we are in sight of a vaccine," the Interpol chief said. Criminals operating around the world had adapted rapidly to the pandemic, he added, "in the sense that they exploit people's new fears, concerns and needs to refocus their criminal activities."

Among the aspects he outlined was the disposal of hospital waste. "We are seeing increasing attempts by organized crime groups in Asia to penetrate this market," Stock said, and predicted this would soon be seen elsewhere.

Stock warned that criminals would try to exploit the pandemic to defraud the elderly by posing as relatives in need of money, and that levels of cybercrime would also spike with so many working from home.

The pandemic might also give a long-term boost to global criminality, Stock said, as some of those who had lost their livelihoods could turn to crime. "People will seek new sources of income of an illegal nature," he predicted.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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