Please take a few moments to read the below press release which can help you
detect and avoid Coronavirus related scams.
Recently the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reported a new trend
in fraud related to Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Updated figures show there have been 105 reports to Action Fraud since 1
February 2020, with total losses reaching nearly £970,000.
The first report relating to Coronavirus, or COVID-19, was received on 9
February. There were 20 more reports that month. Since then, there have been
46 reports between the 1 March and 13 March, and 38 reports in just four days
(14 March – 18 March).
What scams are we
The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people
have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which
have never arrived.
Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity
fraud and lender loan fraud.
We have also received over 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails.
These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could
lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and
passwords, and banking details.
Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:
• Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation
(WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in
their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click
on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a
donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.
• Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to
a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to
a daily newsletter for further updates.
• Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging
people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
• Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and
directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial
details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably
genuine and convincing.
Andersen, Head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said:
“Fraudsters will use any opportunity they can to take money from innocent
people. This includes exploiting tragedies and global emergencies.
“The majority of scams we are seeing relate to the online sale of protective
items, and items that are in short supply across the country, due to the
COVID-19 outbreak. We’re advising people not to panic and to think about the
purchase they are making. When you’re online shopping it’s important to do
your research and look at reviews of the site you are buying from.”
Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said:
“We have already seen fraudsters using the COVID-19 pandemic to scam people
looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical
support and targeting people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated
“These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true,
such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or appeals
for you to support those who are ill or bogus charities.
“The advice is simple, think very carefully before you hand over your money,
and don’t give out your personal details unless you are sure who you are
“We are working together across law enforcement, government and the private
sector to combat this criminal activity and protect the public. If you think
you have been a victim please report to Action Fraud.”
1) Watch out for scam messages
Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never
respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or
2) Shopping online:
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and
trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for
advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the
purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card
providers insure online purchases.
3) Protect your devices from the latest threats:
Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices
from the latest threats.
For the latest health information and advice about COVID-19 please
visit the NHS website.