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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update - fraudsters target streaming services and motorists

1 May 2020
  • Public warned of fake websites charging drivers for SORN declarations
  • Criminals increasingly targeting consumers with fraudulent TV and film streaming services

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is highlighting the latest coronavirus scams from the last 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:

Hoax NHS website
There have been increasing reports of a hoax version of the NHS website being circulated, and this includes harmful links offering COVID-19-related health tips. Once a link is clicked, users are asked to save a file called ‘COVID19’ which contains malware designed to steal passwords, bank and credit card data, and cookies from popular browsers.

Cifas advises users that when searching for a website, always type URLs directly into the web browser rather than following links.

SORN scams 
As a result of the pandemic, many motorists are no longer using their vehicle and have notified the DVLA that their vehicle is no longer in use. Although it is free to make a Statutory off Road Notification declaration (SORN), fraudsters have set up fake websites claiming there is a charge to notify the DVLA. These websites also ask for information about the vehicle, as well as personal information and contact details - all of which can be used for identity fraud.

Cifas is reminding motorists to always use the official DVLA website where they will only be asked for details from their V11 document and registration plate number, with the option of providing an email address or mobile number if they wish. 

TV & movie streaming fraud
Entertainment streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube via Sky have seen a huge increase in viewers, with over 50 million additional requests to access their services during the pandemic. Fraudsters have been quick to spot the opportunity, and an increasing number of people are being offered access to fraudulent or illegal services in exchange for personal information which is later to use to commit identity fraud.

In addition, there were more than 300 million visits in March to sites allowing film and TV content to be downloaded illegally - up nearly 60% since February. Cifas is reminding people to only download content, games or music from trusted sources, and consider using parental control software. Also remember that illegally downloading content such as films and TV programmes could lead to a fine or in some cases, a prison sentence.

Utility company fraud
Most utility companies have now introduced measures to help customers during the pandemic, and this has led to a rise in phishing emails purporting to be from utility providers. These emails often ask people to review documents or attachments, and download malicious malware when the user does.

Cifas advises people to never to click links or download attachments from suspicious emails, and always use the email preview functionality where possible.

Covid-19 financial relief programs
The financial measures recently introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority to support people struggling with their finances due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in phishing emails. These emails are designed to trick recipients into sharing personal and financial details in order to qualify for ‘relief’ for different financial service repayments.

Always remember that the FCA will never contact members of the public asking for money or bank account details, and scams can be reported directly through the FCA website.

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer for Cifas, said: ‘We continue to see new coronavirus related scams on a weekly basis, and so more than ever it is crucial that the public remain vigilant against fraud.

‘Stop and think carefully before responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails, and never be afraid to challenge requests for personal or financial information. We all have a part to play in making sure that fraudsters don't succeed.’

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


For more information contact:

Corinne Gladstone
Head of Communications, Cifas 
T: +44 (0)20 3004 3654

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. We also run a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable, offered free of charge to local authorities to protect those under the care of Court Deputies who are unable to access financial products and whose identities may be at risk.

Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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