False information, when shared, can take on a life of its own and have serious consequences. Recently there has been a lot of false information about coronavirus and the new vaccines designed to tackle it. It’s not always easy to spot. The SHARE checklist is an easy tool to pass on to people in your community to help them know what to look out for before they like, comment or share information they come across online.
Be aware of the following Covid-19 scams
- Cold calls regarding fake vaccine are taking place – we’ve already had reports of scammers asking people to pay for it over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up. The NHS will never ask for your bank details or for payment. Vaccines are NOT being delivered door-to-door.
- Scammer calls claiming to be calling from Test and Trace and says the recipient needs to take a test for Covid-19 as they may have been in contact with an infected person. They then ask for an address to send the kit to and also bank details so the cost of the test can be taken. Genuine tests are free and this is a scam.
Apps and text messages
- A dangerous fake NHS text has been circulating telling people they're eligible to apply for the vaccine. Click here to see what it looks like. Do NOT click on links in unknown texts - always check it first. NEVER give out your personal details. With the recent approval of multiple vaccines in the UK these types of scam attempts are likely to continue as fraudsters look to take advantage of the rollout to so many people.
- New mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead lock your phone and demand a ransom.
- Fraudsters are sending scam messages claiming you are being fined for leaving the house. Criminals are able to use spoofing technology to send texts and emails impersonating organisations that you know and trust. We would remind anyone who receives an unexpected text or email asking for personal or financial details not click on the links or attachments, and don’t respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial details. The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.
- Fake products online and people offering miracle protection, cures or vaccines for coronavirus.
- 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 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.
- Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
- Impersonating a police officer to attempt burglary.
- Impersonating people such as BBC reporters, Red Cross workers and health authorities - door-to-door knocking claiming to be carrying out mandatory testing for coronavirus as an excuse to enter a home and carry out robberies: - always ask for ID before letting someone into your home.
- Impersonating willing shoppers – door-to-door knocking offering help with shopping but then instead steal the money: - ideally link up with verified volunteer groups for food delivery or support. Contact your council if unsure.
- Home cleaning services to remove COVID-19.
- There has been a reported rise in the amount of “Sextortion” phishing emails recently. Sextortion scams are a type of phishing attack whereby people are coerced to pay a Bitcoin ransom because they have been threatened with sharing video of themselves visiting adult websites. These scams are made to appear all the more credible because they provide seemingly plausible technical details about how this was achieved, and the phish can sometimes also include the individual’s password. For more information click https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/sextortion
- There are a number of people sending emails with false test results plus information regarding coronavirus via a link. That link creates a virus on your computer: - if you are unsure, do not open links within an email, visit official websites instead.
- Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar.
- Reports of scam emails to parents suggesting that as schools are closing, all pupils are being given free meals, followed by a request to families to “register” their details, including their bank details, so parents can be supported. Our advice is that if you receive any emails like this, do not respond and delete it immediately. If in doubt, call your local authority on the phone number you know to be correct.
- Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimics 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.
To report crimes and scams please follow the following guidance:
- Call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or report incidents of fraud online and offline at www.actionfraud.police.uk
- Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 101 to report non-emergency incidents to your local police
- Call 999 if you’re reporting a crime that’s in progress or someone is in immediate danger
- Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 to report crime completely anonymously
Existing crimes will continue to occur whist COVID-19 new crimes are emerging. Issues such as burglary, domestic abuse and modern slavery are all still prevalent. Here you can find toolkits with useful resources.
See the advice from Friends Against Scams and visit their website for more information including an online scam training course: https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/