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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update - music streaming and Bitcoin fraud on the increase

24 April 2020
  • Cifas warns that fraudsters continue to use the coronavirus pandemic to prey on people’s fear and uncertainty

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 seen a rise in the following scams:

Bitcoin Donations
There has been an increase in fraudsters purporting to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO) emailing and texting the public asking them to donate money using Bitcoin to their COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The WHO does have a legitimate fund by this name, and impersonators are also using the fake address - to make the fraud look more realistic. Cifas is warning potential donors not to send money by Bitcoin and to never make donations by email, instead make payments directly through the WHO website. 

Phishing Quizzes
A number of ‘Covid-19 quizzes’ are currently circulating on social media claiming to test a person’s knowledge about the pandemic. The quiz is designed to extract personal information and includes questions unrelated to the pandemic such as mother’s maiden names, family information and names of pets, and also asks for email addresses and telephone numbers. Cifas is reminding the public never to provide personal information to anyone as it can be used by fraudsters to commit identity fraud.

Malicious music
As a result of a large number of music concerts and festivals being cancelled or postponed, many DJs are taking to Facebook, Twitch and Twitter to stream events. During these live streams, fraudsters are using ‘liked’ tracks to hide infected files, which when clicked on, downloads malware or infected files on to their device. Cifas is warning music fans to avoid clicking links during live streamed events, and only download music or stream music from trusted sources such as Spotify or Audiomack.

Fake Coronavirus Surveys
The number of coronavirus-related bulk domain registrations is on the increased, and linked to many of these registration sites are fake coronavirus surveys or symptom trackers. These sites seek to harvest personal information and/or inject Malware into computers. Cifas is reminding the public to be cautious when visiting sites seeking to record personal information, and only use legitimate services backed by the government and medical organisations.

HMRC Job Retention Scheme Phishing Emails
Business owners have recently been targeted by emails purporting to be from the Chief Executive of HMRC. Under the heading ‘HM Revenue & Customs’, the email is asking for the bank account details of the recipient to assist them in making a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Cifas is advising business owners to be suspicious of texts, emails or calls purporting to be from the government offering financial help or tax refunds, and visit GOV.UK to check out how genuine schemes operate.

In addition, research has revealed a 600% rise in the number of phishing emails delivered worldwide using Coronavirus-related themes. The top phishing subject lines used by fraudsters are:

  • CDC Health Alert Network: Coronavirus Outbreak Cases
  • Test of the [company name] Emergency Notification System
  • Revised Vacation & Sick Time Policy
  • Please Read Important from Human Resources.

Cifas is reminding people to take a moment to stop and think before responding to requests for personal or financial information, even if they believe it is from their employer. Anyone that has received a suspicious email can report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service:

Amber Burridge, Head of Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘Fraudsters are always quick to spot new opportunities, and many are now using the coronavirus pandemic to prey on people’s fear and uncertainty to obtain money and personal information.

‘If you do get a request for money or information and you cannot confirm it is legitimate, then don’t be afraid to challenge it. My advice is to stay vigilant and remember that criminals are changing their tactics on an almost daily basis – so the scams you are seeing today probably won’t be the ones you’ll see tomorrow.’

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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