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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – public warned about fake covid-19 fund & Government helplines

10 July 2020
  • Public warned of false government advice lines charging callers up to £30 a call
  • Emails in circulation offering £12.5m in funds to distribute COVID-19 relief materials

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 relief fund fraud

Cifas is warning the public to be aware of fraudulent emails claiming to be from ‘LSDSM Organisation’ with the subject ‘COVID-19 RELIEF FUND’. These emails claim to offer £12.5m in relief funds to selected individuals in order to ‘purchase and distribute relief materials for the control of Covid-19’ within their region. Recipients are asked to contact an email address for further information on how to claim this fund, and these emails have been sent from a variety of email addresses, all linked to a University in Colombia.

Anyone receiving this or similar emails should delete them immediately – it is a scam.

Premium Rate Number Scams

A number of fake adverts for government advice lines have been circulating, with unsuspecting callers being charged as much as up to £30 a call. Help with renewing car tax and driving licences, and enquiries about completing tax returns are some of the areas currently prone to premium-rate number scams.

Anyone needing to contact a government department should remember that no official government service would ever use an 084, 087, 090, 091 or 098 number. Only use the contact numbers provided on the relevant government department website.

HSBC Smishing Scam

HSBC customers have reported receiving text messages purporting to be from the bank informing them that ‘a new payment has been made’ through their HSBC app. The recipients are told that if they are not responsible for this payment, then they need to validate their bank account using a link that leads to a fake landing where they are encouraged to input their username and password.

Cifas is reminding people that if they receive an email or a text unexpectedly, they should never share personal or financial information or click on links provided – no matter how legitimate they appear.

Office 365 Phishing Attacks Now Use Fake Zoom Suspension Alerts

Microsoft Office 365 users are being targeted by a new phishing campaign warning that their Zoom accounts have been suspended, and to provide their Office 365 logins to reinstate the service. This phishing campaign is believed to have targeted over 50,000 mailboxes.

It is likely that homeworkers relying on conference platforms are being targeted by this scam, and so it is important to remember never to rush to click on links or provide information that can be used for identity fraud.

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas said: ‘Fraudsters have been relentless in their pursuit of stealing money and information from innocent members of the public throughout the pandemic.

‘My advice to anyone who receives an unsolicited call, email or text is that taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe. Remember that criminals go to great lengths to look and sound genuine, and so question any uninvited approaches – no matter how legitimate they appear to be.’

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

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