UK (Sky News)

Coronavirus: Criminals exploiting COVID-19 pandemic with email scams

By March 18, 2020 No Comments

Criminals are attempting to exploit the coronavirus crisis with a series of new scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts have warned.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has urged the public to be aware of emails which look official and claim to be from the government.

The scam offers a tax rebate to support people through this difficult time.

Recipients are asked to click on a link and fill in their personal details, including their credit card number and address.

These details allow the scammer to take money directly from the recipient’s bank account.

Other email-based scams include one claiming to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The email, which claims to hold crucial COVID-19 safety advice, has an attachment which downloads a keylogger, allowing scammers to follow the online movements of the user, and gain access to their device and personal details.

Citizens Advice has launched advice on coronavirus scams and a scam checker.

CTSI chief executive Leon Livermore said: “It is abhorrent that unscrupulous individuals are using this difficult time as an opportunity to immiserate others further.

“Consumers should now be extra vigilant, and aware of these new scams that take many forms.

“The general rule of scams applies – if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

“CTSI is monitoring these developments and will update the public as we receive further intelligence.

“In the meantime, the public should follow the official government advice, and take all necessary precautions.”

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Earlier this week, the UK’s cybersecurity agency earlier this week issued a warning about criminals using the coronavirus outbreak to launch online attacks due to an increase in people working from home.

Experts from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – have said that a range of attacks are being carried out.

Cybercriminal gangs are also targeting healthcare professionals with phishing emails that pretend to be from each firm’s internal IT team.