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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Scam

covid 19 scam

The coronavirus has been classified as a global emergency by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Unfortunately, criminals are now preying on people’s fear by launching various fraud and phishing campaigns.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 105 reports of fraud where coronavirus or COVID-19 was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £970,000.

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products which have never arrived. One victim reported losing over £15K when they purchased face masks that were never delivered. Reporting numbers are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

They have also received over 200 reports of coronavirus themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information. Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:

Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:

  • Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre 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 credential stealing page; or make a donation of support 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 investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
  • Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victim to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.

Protect Yourself

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know or trust, carry out some research first and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. Where possible, use a credit card to make the payment as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

  • Watch out for scam messages
  • Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • Protect your devices from the latest threats
  • Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.

For more information on how to shop safely, please visit the Action Fraud website.