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Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – Covid vaccine bookings, Netflix phishing, M&S Facebook scam and Bitcoin

25 January 2021

Fraudsters continue to use the ongoing situtation with the pandemic to steal money and information from the public

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:

Public warned of COVID vaccine booking scams

Fraudsters continue to use the ongoing situation with the pandemic to steal money and information from the public. This week Cifas has received reports of fake emails and texts claiming to be from the NHS urging people to book an appointment for their COVID vaccination. These messages often contain hyperlinks to book a slot, with victims being asked to enter personal or financial information. Some people have even reported fake NHS staff visiting their home asking for payment to administer the vaccine.

According to Action Fraud, there have been 91 reports of vaccine scams leading to losses totalling over £531,000.

Cifas is reminding people that the NHS will never ask for information or payment, and anyone that receives a suspicious email claiming to be from the NHS should forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Anyone visited unexpectedly by someone claiming to be from the NHS or to administer the vaccine should call the police immediately.

Netflix customers targeted by phishing scams

Netflix customers are being warned of fake emails purporting to be from the streaming service asking them to update their payment details or risk having their account suspended. Netflix has advised customers that if they receive an email or text requesting their username, password, or payment method, then they must not respond or click on any links provided, and forward any suspicious emails to phishing@netflix.com.

M&S shoppers warned of Facebook fraud

Cifas has heard reports this week of fraudsters offering shopping vouchers for Marks & Spencer on Facebook. The fraud was initially detected via a fake post offering free items worth £40 on the ‘M&S Shop’ Facebook group which has more than 30,000 followers. Although the post has now been taken down, social media users continue to be targeted by fraudsters purporting to be high-street names offering free gifts to take part in surveys or competitions.

Cifas is warning people to be very cautious when approached to take part in any type of activity that involves parting with personal information as this can be used to commit identity theft. Also remember that if an offer look too good to be true then it probably is!

Investors lose thousands in new Bitcoin scam

Cifas understands that a new bitcoin investment scam email is currently in circulation with Action Fraud receiving over 400 reports of this scam in just two days. These emails are designed to link to legitimate-looking pages from the BBC or Mirror websites promoting bitcoin investment, and victims are reporting losses of up to £200,000 after following links to these websites, as well as through AOL, MSN, Yahoo and Facebook.

Cifas is reminding anyone that has seen an investment opportunity on social media or on the internet which offers high returns and is celebrity endorsed, then it is probably a scam. Most cryptocurrencies aren’t regulated by the FCA which means they are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so it’s important that you do your research before making any investments.

If you think you’ve fallen for a scam then you must contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, then report to Police Scotland by calling 101 or Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6400.

Cifas’ Head of Fraud Intelligence, Amber Burridge, said: ‘Criminals are continuing to take advantage of the vaccine rollout and the increase in online activity to trick people into parting with their money and details. With many people now reliant on the internet while in lockdown, criminals are deliberately targeting the public through these online channels.

‘I would urge anyone receiving requests for funds or information from sources they do not know and trust to take a moment and consider the potential consequences of parting with their cash or details.’

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Cifas has a webpage dedicated to giving advice on coronavirus fraud and the latest scams.

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 2019, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.5 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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