Online Fraud

How not to be a victim of online fraud

Blatant scammers are taking advantage of the Coronavirus outbreak scare to try to defraud people, particularly the elderly and vulnerable.

Shockingly, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has already identified more than 100 reports of fraud relating to Coronavirus since February, with victims’ losses totalling almost £1million. The majority are online shopping scams where victims have tried to buy products such as protective face masks and hand sanitiser from fraudsters.  There have also been hundreds of reports of Coronavirus-themed phishing emails designed to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive information.

A common tactic used by scammers is to send messages purporting to be from research groups linked with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, or the World Health Organisation. Some claim to be able to provide a list of people infected with Covid-19, which links to a malicious website or asks the victim to make a payment in Bitcoin.

Other common phishing emails include sending articles about the Coronavirus outbreak with links to fake company websites, or sending details of investment schemes which encourage people to take advantage of the Coronavirus downturn. 

Action Fraud says you can protect yourself by:

  • Being vigilant for scam messages. This includes not clicking on any links or attachments if you receive a suspicious message, and not responding to any unsolicited messages or calls that ask for personal or financial details.
  • Taking care when shopping online. You should always do your research if you’re buying from a company or person you don’t know and trust, possibly asking a friend or family member for advice first. If you do go ahead with an online purchase, you should use a credit card if possible for extra protection. 
  • Protecting your devices from threats. This includes always installing the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from new threats.