Fraud

Take care – Coronavirus fraud on the rise

The Government has issued fresh warnings to members of the public and businesses about the potential for fraud related to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Local authorities, police forces and specialist fraud organisations across the UK are issuing guidance to companies and individuals following a 400 per cent increase in fraud in recent weeks.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has recorded more than 105 cases in just over a month, leading to losses totalling nearly £1 million.

Fraudsters appear to be relying on the panic caused by the pandemic and the changes to business procedures resulting from home working to target people.

The first Coronavirus-related scam was reported on 9 February but there has since been a flood of complex cases reported. These scams are taking many forms including requests for pensions transfers, high-return investment opportunities or health insurance supplements.

Action Fraud also received more than 200 reports of Coronavirus-themed phishing emails in March. These trick recipients into opening malicious attachments allowing the theft of their personal information or financial details.

Consumers are also being warned by UK Finance, the British trade body for banks, to be wary of similar texts and emails that claim to be from Government departments, banks or other trusted organisations.

These scams typically offer payments related to the Coronavirus outbreak or claim to be from bodies issuing fines, but often include a link to a fake website that is intended to steal information such as credit card numbers.

This fraud is complex and often uses a technique called spoofing, which can make a fraudulent message appear alongside genuine messages previously received from an organisation.

It is strongly advised that you should never click on links in emails or texts, but instead log into your account from a new secure browser.

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