KEY POINTS

  • The fake relief fund sites masquerade as US government websites
  • Victims may be led to upload their identification documents
  • Emails associated with the fake sites were traced to a web developer in Nigeria

More than a dozen fake relief fund sites created by Nigerian scammers are aiming to steal the identities of Americans in an effort to get more stimulus money. 

Information-Security Firm DomainTools has found that more than 50 websites were masquerading as U.S. government sites targetting people who are looking to receive their stimulus payments. 

The websites aim to lead victims to upload their identification documents, including mobile phone number, home address, and date of birth, allowing its operators to create fraudulent identities that the scammers could use to collect more stimulus checks.

The fraudulent websites have addresses such as “AmericanReliefPlan.com,” “AmericaFundForStimulus.com,” “ReliefCareFunds.com” and “AmericanReliefPlan.us.” These were found to be associated with goldenwaves247@gmail.com, according to a report by Domain Tools

The associated email was found to be linked to a fake bank in the United Kingdom, sites that appeared to be recruiting for promotional programs, and GoldenWaves Innovations, a technology company in Ibadan, Nigeria, that went private in 2018. 

A further search found that at least 47 domains had a registrant email address of onostboy1@gmail.com, which belonged to a web developer based in Ibadan. The developer was also linked with sales on cybercrime forums and Steam gaming. 

The websites claim to be connected to President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March and distributed stimulus checks worth $1,400 to millions of eligible Americans. 

The American Rescue Plan also provides Americans with six months of advance payments for child tax credits. The payments range from $2,000 to $3,000 per child over the age of six and $3,600 per child under the age of 6. 

More than 2.2 million U.S. citizens have received the third round of stimulus checks from the IRS. The government also estimated that around 60 million children could benefit from the Child Tax Credit, which was sent out on July 15.

Americans who are eligible to receive stimulus money and the expanded child tax credits do not need to sign up on websites to get the money. 

"Many relief recipients are unaware that this relief will be automatically assigned to them by the IRS," Chad Anderson, senior security researcher for DomainTools said, according to Tom’s Guide. "Scammers are using this as an opportunity to collect Social Security numbers and driver's license photographs to use in identity theft."

Cyber Attack Crime, Hacker Representation of a cyber attack crime. Photo: Getty Images/Bill Hinton/Contributor