Crime has rapidly increased during the new coronavirus pandemic as criminals and organised gangs quickly adapt their methods, according to Interpol.
Investigators found increased cases of cybercrime, fraud, theft, and forgery, the European police authority warned in a report published in The Hague on Friday.
The report states that the sale of counterfeit protective articles including masks, disinfectant gels, and medicines has increased considerably since the crisis broke out.
In March, some 34,000 counterfeit surgical masks were seized during a worldwide police operation against counterfeit medicines, Europol said further.
Counterfeit drugs include antiviral drugs, the anti-malaria drug Chloroquine and vitamins.
Europol Director Catherine De Bolle says this is unacceptable.
“Such criminal activities during a health crisis are particularly threatening and can endanger human lives,” De Bolle added.
Europol also warned against cyber criminals, particularly as many people now work from home where their data and network connection may be less secure.
Europol anticipates a rapid increase in fraud cases.
“Fraudsters very quickly adapted notorious patterns and exploited the fears and worries of victims during the crisis,” according to the report.