Covid-19 Scam Alert

James has called for the people to be vigilant against scams linked to the Covid-19 outbreak as criminals start to use the pandemic as cover to try to trick people into parting with cash or their personal details. In his role as Security Minister, James has been working with law enforcement, business and others to alert people against the risk of fraud, particularly involving sharing financial and personal information.

Criminals are targeting people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and scamming people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home. These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or make appeals for you to support bogus charities or those who are ill.

Reports from the public have already included online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived and a number of cases have been identified where fake testing kits have been offered for sale.

Criminals are also using Government branding to try to trick people, including reports of using HMRC branding to make spurious offers of financial support through unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages.

This situation is likely to continue, with criminals looking to exploit further consequences of the pandemic, such as exploiting financial concerns to ask for upfront fees for bogus loans, offering high-return investment scams, or targeting pensions.

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Commenting, James said:

“Fraudsters are callous criminals who ruin victims’ lives while lining their own pockets. To take advantage of vulnerable people at this difficult time is particularly reprehensible.”

“The Government is committed to working with the NCA and all law enforcement partners to tackle this and protect the public.”