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Coronavirus scam: watch for bogus fines for breaking lockdown

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Scammers are sinking to new lows to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic as they issue bogus fines to people having left their homes during the lockdown.

There has been a surge in scams relating to Covid-19, from emails purporting to be from HMRC for tax rebates, to fake testing kits and online shopping scams where protective equipment fails to be delivered.

But now the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), said there appears to be no end to the depths that opportunists are sinking to during the crisis.

A new scam text purporting to be from the government informs the recipient they have been issued a fine for leaving the house during the lockdown. The message claims that the movements of the recipient are monitored through their phone, and that they must pay a fine.

The distressing texts are fraudulent and an attempt by scammers to steal the credit card details of text recipients.

‘Appalled and infuriated’

CTSI lead officer, Katherine Hart, said: “The list of new scams associated with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic grows by the day. I am appalled and infuriated at the ways unscrupulous individuals exploit this situation.

“We see new scams daily, and I would urge people to seek advice before replying to any messages they receive. This latest text scam issues a fake fine which tells the recipient to pay a fine or face more severe action.

“Anyone who receives this text should ignore it. It is simply another ruse to steal the payment details of users. In all of these cases, do not click, or tap any links that these messages ask you to.”

The Home Office has given police the power to fine people £60 if they don’t stay at home.

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