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Victims lose £800k to coronavirus scams in just one month

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06/03/2020
Coronavirus-related scams have seen victims collectively lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in just one month.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has seen 21 reports of fraud where coronavirus has been mentioned. In total, victims have lost more than £800,000.

Of the 21 reports, ten were made by victims who wanted to buy protective face masks. One victim reported losing over £15,000 when they bought face masks from fraudsters that were never delivered.

The Bureau has also received multiple reports about coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

One common tactic used by fraudsters is to contact potential victims over email purporting to be from research organisations affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make payment in cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

The Bureau said it expects to see fraud cases rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

How to protect yourself from scams

Watch out for scam messages:

Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.

Shopping online:

If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, research it 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.

Protect your devices from the latest threats:

Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats. For information on how to update your devices, visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices.

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