Coronavirus: Experts warn over increase in scams as victims lose more than £4.6 million to COVID-19 related fraud

A fresh warning has been issued for people to stay vigilant as the total amount lost to fraudsters from COVID-19 related scams has reached more than £4.6 million.

There have been more than 11,000 instances of email and text phishing scams that have tricked individuals into giving out personal information, with a further 2,000 people reporting that they have been victim to the sale of fake online goods, cold-calls, fraudulent pension plans and other scams.

The figures were recently published by Actionfraud, the UK’s online centre for reporting cybercrime and fraud, and found that the number of targeted scams has increased significantly since the UK’s lockdown measures were introduced in March.

Police have warned about the number of scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, including the sale of ‘cures’ for the virus, as well as fake or non-existent treatments, face masks and testing kits.

There have also been scams in other sectors, such as pet scams, with fraudulent breeders collecting deposits from unsuspecting people for puppies and kittens that they have not been allowed to travel to see.

Spotting scam calls                    

Being contacted unexpectedly is one sign that the call may not be legitimate. If you’re unsure if the call is genuine, then hang up and contact the number found on an official website to ensure that you know you’re speaking to the genuine authority, rather than a fraudster.

If the caller begins to pressurise you or becomes threatening, this is a sign that the call may not be genuine, as the fraudster attempts to force you into decisions under pressure.

If you’re asked to share personal details and you can’t verify the callers’ identity, end the call. You can always phone any company back to ensure that any call is legitimate.

Fraudulent online activity

You should never click on any links or attachments in a suspicious email. Fraudsters can spoof email addresses to make the display name appear legitimate, but if you are unsure you can contact the genuine company or organisation and delete the email.

Individuals are also being advised to be vigilant when shopping online, making sure to research any company or person you’re purchasing from if you’re unfamiliar with them. If you decide to purchase anything, you should use a credit card if possible, as most major providers insure online purchases.

To ensure you’re protected, you should install the latest software and app updates to protect your digital devices.

Posted in Ken Maggs, Scams.