Con artists use coronavirus to scam people out of £800,000

A coronavirus fraud victim was swindled out of £15,000 after buying face masks online that were never delivered.

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

The NFIB said, of the 21 reports, ten were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. One victim reported losing more than £15k when they purchased face masks that were never delivered.

The bureau said it had also received multiple reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.

One common tactic used by fraudsters is to contact potential victims over email purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

They 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.

The NFIB said reporting numbers are expected to rise as the virus continues to spread across the world.

Police are warning people to watch out for scam messages and to not click on links or attachments in suspicious emails asking for personal or financial details.

It recommends that those making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust online should carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.

If they decide to go ahead with the purchase, they should use a credit card if they have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

In order to protect devices from the latest threats, users should always install the latest software and app updates.

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