Beware of COVID-19 Scams
Published on 26 March 2020 02:12 PM
Unscrupulous criminals are exploiting fears about COVID-19 to prey on members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends.
Members of the public should ignore scam products such as supplements and anti-virus kits that falsely claim to cure or prevent COVID-19. In some cases individuals may be pressurised on their own doorsteps to buy anti-virus kits or persuaded into purchasing products that are advertised on their social media feeds. In addition, some call centres that previously targeted UK consumers with dubious health products are now offering supplements that supposedly prevent COVID-19.
Communities are also being urged to look out for signs of neighbours being targeted by doorstep criminals. While there are genuine groups of volunteers providing help during self-isolation, there have been reports of criminals preying on residents – often older people or people living with long-term health conditions – by cold-calling at their homes and offering to go to the shops for them. The criminals often claim to represent charities to help them appear legitimate before taking the victim’s money. There are genuine charities providing support, so consumers should be vigilant and ask for ID from anyone claiming to represent a charity.
Action Fraud are also reporting an increase of 400% of Coronavirus-related frauds. The majority of these reports are associated with online shopping scams, where people are ordering protective face masks, hand sanitizer and other products, which never have arrived. There are also reports of themed phishing emails attempting to trick people in opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive or financial information. Their advice is as follows:
- Watch out for scam messages
- Research first before you purchase online
- Protect your devices – Always install the latest software and Apps updated.