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CORONAVIRUS NEWS: Be aware of scammers who take advantage of COVID-19

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WARWICKSHIRE County Council is warning residents that fraudsters are taking advantage of the coronavirus (covid-19) pandemic to scam vulnerable people.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 21 reports of fraud where the virus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800K.

Ten of these reports were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers.

Some of the scam tactics have included:

  • Sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails in an attempt totrick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.
  • Impersonating the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Fraudsters 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 a payment in Bitcoin.
  • Selling unapproved and falsely branded products, (for example teas and essential oils), claiming they can treat or prevent the coronavirus. There are currently no approved vaccines or drugs available to prevent or treat the disease.
  • Creating malicious web pages with coronavirus baseddomain names. These encourage Internet users to visit them, putting their computers at risk of viruses. Some are attempting to mimic genuine sources of information.
  • Cold calling residents offering ‘safe’ investments following falling share prices.
  • Taking advantage of vulnerable older people who are attempting to self-isolate. This may include offering to fetch shopping or carry out all household chores in return for cash or for divulging bank details.

Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:

“At this difficult time, look out for your vulnerable friends and family members. Keep in contact with them and abreast of all the latest information and advice about scams and health issues generally and most importantly help ensure they are safe and comfortable.”

Advice to residents:

  • Watch out for scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and phone 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. 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. For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely
  • 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, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices

Keep up with all the latest help, advice and information at: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronavirus

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