Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update - fraudsters target vulnerable people with fake COVID testing kits
29 June 2020
- Fraudsters contacting vulnerable people to warn them they are at risk of Covid-19
- Parents receiving phishing emails offering financial help if their child receives free school meals
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:
NHS Test and Trace Scam
There have been a number of NHS Test and Trace scams circulating during the pandemic. This week Cifas has been made aware of fraudsters contacting vulnerable people to tell them they are at risk of Covid-19 and need to buy a testing kit for £500.
This is one of a large number of similar emails designed to prey on people’s fear and anxieties over Covid-19, and Cifas is reminding people that the NHS Test and Trace service will never ask for personal or financial details, or ask them to call a premium rate number. More advice is available on the NHS website here.
Free School Dinner Phishing Emails
Parents and carers have reported receiving emails claiming to offer financial help during the pandemic if their child is entitled to free school meals. The email provides a link for recipients to supply their bank details for reimbursement, and these details are subsequently being used to steal money from banks accounts or for identity fraud.
Cifas is reminding parents that receive an email, text or WhatsApp message offering financial assistance during the pandemic to never share personal or financial details – even if the request appears to be legitimate. More details about the government’s financial support for parents whose children are eligible for free schools are available on the GOV.UK website here.
Compromised Email Accounts
Recent reports suggest that people are being targeted by compromised emails that look like they have been sent by a friend. The email explains that the sender is currently in hospital and asks the recipient to purchase Amazon Gift cards on their behalf. The amount is usually around £300-£400, and the email states that they will be paid back once they have forwarded the details of the gift cards.
It is important that anyone receiving a similar email checks with the recipient that it is legitimate before sending goods, financial or personal details.
Fraudsters have increasingly been targeting social media users during the pandemic, and this week Instagram users have been receiving messages claiming to be from Instagram’s help centre. The message warns that one of their posts has infringed copyright law, and that their account will be closed within 24 hours if they don’t dispute the ‘breach’ – which they can do by clicking on a link and providing their personal and login details. Like a large number of scams, these messages include a number of grammatical errors, and the account name used to send the messages is ‘Instagramsupportcf’.
Instagram has reminded users that it only contacts its users about account information or issues over email – never through a private message on the platform. More advice on how to avoid Instagram scams is available on their website here.
Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘Fraudsters continue to use the pandemic to target innocent people, and are changing their tactics on a regular basis in order to steal money and information.
‘Anyone who has lost money to fraudsters may be reluctant to report it as they feel ashamed or embarrassed, but people need to remember that they have been the victim of crime and so it is important to report all scams and get the help and support they might need.’
Anyone that believes they have been the victim of a scam should contact their bank or financial service provider immediately and report the fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or www.actionfraud.police.uk.
For more information contact:
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.
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.
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