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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update - public targeted by Covid-19 tracing and video conferencing scams

15 May 2020
  • Text scam warns people that they have been in contact with coronavirus victim
  • Homeworkers targeted by fraudsters purporting to be from video conferencing platforms

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is highlighting the latest coronavirus scams from the past week, and warning the public to stay vigilant of the ever-changing tactics that scammers are using to extract money and information. 

This week Cifas has been made aware of the following scams:            

Covid-19 tracing scam
The public are being warned of a text scam attempting to fool people into believing they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The text simply reads: ‘someone who came in contact with you tested positive or has shown symptoms for Covid-19’, and recommends that they self-isolate and/or get tested by clicking on a link which asks for personal data.

A similar phishing scam is purporting to be from an employee’s management team suggesting that a colleague has tested positive for COVID-19. The email urges recipients to read an attachment under the title ‘guidelines’ or ‘next steps’, which when opened installs malicious software.

Cifas is reminding people that if they receive an email or a text unexpectedly, they should never share personal or financial information, and never reply or use the contact details provided. Anyone receiving this type of text or email should delete it immediately.  

Video conferencing scam
With a large number of employees working from home, cyber-thieves are taking advantage of the increasing number of people using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. Users of these platforms are being sent fake notification emails containing malicious links, which when clicked on take the user to a fake Microsoft login page designed to steal their details. These details are then used for identity theft.

Fraudsters go to great lengths to make phishing emails look legitimate and so it’s easy to fall victim to scams such as these. Anyone receiving an unexpected email claiming to be from their video conference platform provider should delete it, or login via the platform’s website – never use links provided in emails or texts.

Council tax refunds
There has been a rise in emails purporting to be from the Department for Work and Pensions claiming that people are entitled to a council tax refund. Recipients are asked to click through to a page where they can leave their bank details in order for a refund to be made.

Cifas is reminding people that if they receive a message like this then they should contact their council using the details on the council’s official website. Never reply to suspicious emails or click on links.

Rental property & Amazon scams
Cifas has also been made aware this week of fake landlords offering properties for rental. Claiming that their properties cannot be viewed owing to the pandemic, these ‘landlords’ ask for an advance payment to secure it. In reality, these properties do not exist.

In addition, Amazon customers have been receiving emails inviting them to apply for the Amazon Grant relief fund and receive £1,000. The recipient is asked to click on a link which is designed to steal their login and personal details.

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer for Cifas, said: ‘Fraudsters are quick to spot new and emerging opportunities to steal people’s money and information. You can never be too vigilant in this current environment, and my advice to the public is to always think carefully before handing over their banking or personal details – even if a request appears to be legitimate.

‘Never be afraid to challenge an email or text if you are unable to confirm the legitimacy of the sender, and never be rushed into a decision – it’s a well-known tactic that only fraudsters will use.’

Anyone that believes they have been the victim of a scam must contact their bank or financial service provider immediately and report the fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.

ENDS

For more information contact:

Corinne Gladstone
Head of Communications, Cifas 
T: +44 (0)20 3004 3654
E: corinne.gladstone@cifas.org.uk

Notes to editors

Cifas has a webpage dedicated to giving advice on coronavirus fraud and the latest scams here

For more advice on preventing fraud visit the Take Five website.

About Cifas

Cifas is an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2018, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.4 billion of fraud losses.

Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime and works alongside law enforcement agencies in tackling fraud. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently.

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Posted by: Cifas Press Team
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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

Contact us at press@cifas.org.uk

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