Trading standards officers are warning people to remain vigilant following a rise in coronavirus-related scams that seek to benefit from the public’s concern and uncertainty over COVID-19.
KCOM have also warned customers to be wary as fraudsters try to exploit fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
Scams including ‘phishing’ emails reportedly from HMRC, or from fraudsters claiming to be from the health authorities asking for personal information, are among those highlighted by action Fraud, the NAtional Fraud and Cyber-Crime Reporting Centre.
Other scams include online shopping websites offering fake protective gear or tests for COVID-19 and fake charities asking for donations to help COVID-19 victims.
Some of the tactics being used in phishing include:
Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group linked to the Cetnre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area, but to access this information the victim needs to either click on a link which redirects them to a credentials-stealing page or make a donation in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin Account.
Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
Fraudsters sending information about scam investment schemes and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
Fraudsters claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo, so may look reasonably genuine and convincing at a glance.
Superintendent Sanjay Andersen, Head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said
Fraudsters will use any opportunity they can to take money from innocent people.
This includes exploiting tragedies and global emergencies. The majority of scame we are seing relate to the online sale of protective items, and items that are in short supply across the country, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re advising people not to pani, and to think about the purchase they are making. When you’re online shopping it’s important to do your research and look at reviews of the site you are buying from.
Grame Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said
We have already seen fraudsters using the COVID-19 Pandemic to scam people looing to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home.
These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or appeals for you to support those who are ill or bogus charities.
The advice is simple, think very carefully before you hand over your money, and don’t give out your personal details unless you are sure who you are dealing with.
We are working together across law enforcement, government and the private sector to combat this criminal activity and protect the public. If you think you have been a victim, please report it to Action Fraud
National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team:
National Trading Standards (NTS) Scams Team launched a new initiative last week called Businesses Against Scams (BAS). It is a simple toolkit that businesses can use to help train their employees on how to spot certain types of scams that are more prevalent within businesses due to the current pandemic sweeping the UK. The initiative provides free online training modules that will help staff identify and prevent potential scams. For more information and access to the resources click here.
Please help your vulnerable family members and friends to remain vigilant and to check that support being offered is genuine. Its ok to refuse or ignore any requests, and those who are genuine will not try to rush or panic people.
More advice can be found on the Friends Against Scams website here
Training is also available from The Friends Against Scams, which has been updated to include information on coronavirus scams. Complete it here:
for advice on how to shop safely online, click here
Please follow the links below for other useful updates:
Public warned against scammers pretending to be Red Cross volunteers
Coronavirus scam costs victims over £800k in one month
CTSI issues warning over COVID-19 ‘home-testing’ scams
Coronavirus phishing examples
Scams and Fraud leaflet produced by Victim Support to advise groups who are supporting others during the Coronavirus Pandemic giving them tips to keep group members safe as well as those they are helping.
Friends Against Scams have issued guidance on the particular types of scams related to Covid-19 that have been identified.
Click here to find out ways to stay cybersafe when working from home
Coronavirus (Covid-19): increased risk of fraud and cybercrime against charities- Government advice