City of London Police reported a 400% increase in scams as a result of coronavirus-related fraud (to Friday 20 March 2020)
Scammers are taking advantage even more than usual of people’s fears and hopes, so do be careful and watch out for the common Coronavirus scams.
1. Protective Equipment Scam
There is a worldwide shortage of protective equipment for medical staff, other health workers and the public. Scammers offer every type of protective equipment including protective masks, face guards, medical gloves, medical aprons and gowns and hand sanitiser. But, it’s either non-existent or such poor quality as to be unsafe to use.
Con artists knock on your door claiming to be from the NHS or local GP surgeries offering tests for Covid-19. There is no such initiative being run. They are simply thieves trying to get your confidential details and/or steal from your home.
3. Fake Charities
At times of disaster, many people are very generous and want to donate to charities that can help people suffering. Scammers take advantage of this by creating fake charities. You might receive emails or text messages about how you can help by sending money to new charities. Be careful the charity you pick is genuine and not just a greedy criminal. If you give bank details etc. to such a fake charity they may empty your account.
One common scam is an invitation to fund the search for a vaccine for Covid-19 and even an offer that you will be front of the queue to get it. These often want payment in Bitcoin and are all fake.
4. Fake Lockdown Fines
We all have to abide by government rules telling us to stay home. Scammers have started sending out text messages telling people they have been tracked breaking that rule and have been fined £30 or £50 or £100 etc. These texts are fake.
Some governments are tracking people’s location through mobile phones but most countries will not do this and in any case, no-one issues such fines by text message or demands payment by Bitcoin or iTunes gift cards as the scammers do.
5. Financial Assistance Scams
Governments around the world are having to cope with economic meltdown caused by the lock down of their population. In some cases, assistance to businesses, employees and the public is very sizeable and scammers send out messages claiming to offer a route to these government provided monies.
Usually these are phishing scams – looking to get your bank details etc. supposedly for payment but in fact so they can steal from you. Verify any messages or other contacts before believing them.
6. Fake news
Fake information masquerading as the truth is an enormous problem on the Internet and has been made worse by fear over Coronavirus.
Stories of supposed cures, doctors using ancient remedies that miraculously cure people or strange practices that protect you from catching the virus are common in the online world.
The world’s scientists are searching for a cure and for treatments that help sufferers. All useful information is openly shared with everyone else working in the field. If you want information or answers to your questions, then seek a reputable source and ignore the rubbish on social media and email claiming to be from a friend of a friend or someone in the military or the nephew of a doctor etc.
Do not forward posts on social media about Coronavirus unless you are certain they are genuine.
7. Scam Health Messages
Some scammers have been sending out messages claiming to be from The World Health Organisation (WHO) or from the United Nations or from your government or from The Centre for Disease Control or similar bodies.
The messages may claim to tell you how to protect yourself or how to claim money from the government or where to get protective equipment or even asking for donations to help WHO find a vaccine for Covid-19. If you click the link, you likely get to a fake web page asking for your login and password or bank details or just to download a document which is virus laden.
Delete any such messages.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.