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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – employees & taxpayers targeted by new phishing campaigns

6 July 2020
  • Fake emails claims users selected for ‘Microsoft Coronavirus Relief Fund’ payment
  • Employees targeted by phishing scams offering COVID-19 workplace training

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:

Microsoft Covid-19 relief funds

A large number of people have reported receiving emails claiming to be from a Senior Director from Microsoft, and claiming that an online email beta test was carried out and the recipient’s email address was selected to receive a payment from the ‘Microsoft Coronavirus Relief Fund’. Recipients are asked to open an attached JPG file to view details and receive further information on how to claim this fund.

Fraudsters go to great lengths to make emails look genuine, and so it is important that people never share financial or personal information if they cannot confirm the legitimacy of the sender.

Return to work training scams

Cifas has learned of a new phishing campaign targeting homeworkers this week, with fraudsters sending emails to employees offering coronavirus training resources ahead of their return to the workplace. These emails specifically target Office 365 users, and include a link asking recipients to register for the training.

Cifas is reminding employees 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: report@phishing.gov.uk.

HMRC phishing texts

Taxpayers have reported receiving fake text messages purporting to be from HMRC informing them they are due a tax refund which can be applied for via an official looking website. This spoofed site uses HMRC branding and is headed ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance and support’, and asks users for information including government gateway login credentials before requesting their passport number or national insurance number as ‘verification’.

Cifas is advising taxpayers to be suspicious of texts, emails or calls claiming to be from the government offering financial help or tax refunds, and visit GOV.UK to check out how genuine schemes operate.

Nick Downing, Chief Intelligence Officer for Cifas, said: ‘Despite the fact that the lockdown is beginning to ease, criminals continue to look for ways to use the COVID pandemic to steal money and information from innocent members of the public.

‘Don’t be tempted to let your guard down at this time, and always question the legitimacy of unsolicited emails, texts and calls. Stay vigilant and remember that criminals work quickly and regularly change tactics, so the scams you see today most likely won’t be the ones you’ll see tomorrow.’

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.

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.

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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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