Health and wellbeing Coronavirus

Coronavirus related fraud

Last updated 9.31am, Friday 1 May

Watch out for Coronavirus related fraud 

There's been a 400% rise in fraud related to COVID-19 in March according to Action Fraud We've put together helpful information on what to look out for: 

COVID-19 related fraud has increased by 400% in March. Between 1 February 2020 and 18 March 2020, Action Fraud has received 105 reports from victims of COVID-19 related frauds, with losses totalling close to £970,000.

The Majority of the reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitisers, and other products, which have never arrived.

Phishing email scams

Action Fraud has also received over 200 reports about COVID-19 themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments, or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:

Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic 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.

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 sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.

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.

Protect yourself

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, carry out some research first and ask a friend, or family member for advice before completing the purchase. Where possible use a credit card to make the payment, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

See shop online safely on the Action Fraud website for some simple tips to help you and your family enjoy a secure online shopping experience. 

Protect your devices from the latest threats

Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.

See Securing your devices on the National Cyber Security Centre website for information on how to ensure your devices are as secure as possible.

Price Hikes

Since the start of the Covid 19 restrictions Trading Standards have received complaints about shops charging excessive prices for some  items. Although charging a high price isn't illegal it is an offence to not display the price of the item either on the item itself, the shelf edge or on a price list. It is also an offence to charge a customer a higher price than the price displayed on the item.
If you want to report a shop for any of the above please contact Citizens Advice Bureau who will pass the details to Trading Standards.

Small businesses and SMEs

The Cyber Resilience Centre for Greater Manchester is a not-for-profit that works in partnership with Greater Manchester Police to support SMEs to build their resilience to online crime. 

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