COVID-19 scams

Hard to believe that scammers are trying to use the pandemic to fleece, but here you go. This is one financial institution's circular:

The recent coronavirus outbreak has seen a massive increase in scams, with losses at nearly £1million already. As there are so many of them, we've added a new coronavirus section to this page, which we'll update regularly, so please don't be a stranger.

But that doesn't mean we've forgotten all the other scams going on too. You can find everything you need by clicking on the relevant subject below to take find the information you need:

Government communications
On 24 March, the government sent a text message to the entire nation regarding coronavirus.

Sadly, this has encouraged criminals to copy or mimic this tactic and attach links for people to click on which could lead to the theft of information and the installation of malware.

Fake government webpages and SMS messages are also doing the rounds encouraging users to input their banking and/or personal details in order to access payments and tax refunds.

NHS workers have also been targeted with fake texts about goodwill payments from HMRC, while another text is telling people they'll be fined £250 for leaving the house one more time and giving a link to an 0800 number to call to appeal.

Advice: Don't respond to any emails, calls or texts in relation to payments or tax rebates. This is not how Government institutions advise you of any kind of payment.

You should never automatically click on links from emails or texts asking you to share your banking details – it is safer to search directly for the information through a trusted search engine.

You can report suspected spam text messages to your mobile provider by forwarding them to 7726.

Medical institutions
We're dependent on science a lot at the moment. And while we trust what the scientists and medical people are telling us, we need to be wary of what's popping up in our inboxes.

World Health Organisation (WHO) scam
Fake mails from WHO claim that an attached document shows how you can prevent the disease's spread. Clicking on the attachment infects computers with malicious software called AgentTesla Keylogger, which records every keystroke and allows the attackers to monitor your every move online.

Advice: Be wary of emails claiming to be from WHO, as they are probably fake. Instead, visit its official website or social media channels for the latest advice.

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) login scam
An email using the CDC's legitimate email addresses is being sent via a spoofing tool. The link directs you to a fake Microsoft login page, where you're encouraged to enter their email and password. You're then redirected to the real CDC advice page, making it seem even more authentic. Meanwhile the hackers now have control of your email account.

Advice: One way to protect yourself is to enable two-factor authentication, so that you have to enter a code texted or otherwise provided to you, to access your email account.

CDC donation scam
A fake CDC email asks for donations to develop a vaccine, and requests payments be made in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. This one's not very elaborate, but the email address and signature look convincing.

Advice: A genuine health institution would never ask for a payment for access to healthcare advice, statistics and information and especially not in Bitcoin. Be wary of emails claiming to be from CDC, as they are probably fake. Instead visit its official website or social media channels for the latest advice.

Ginp Trojan software
Fake text messages are being sent in the UK and US which open up a webpage called 'Coronavirus finder' which claims there are people local to you who have the virus. A request is then made for 0.75 euro for this information. If payment is made, your credit card details are then captured.

Advice: As above, don't automatically click on links and be aware the a genuine health organisation would never ask for payment for access to healthcare information.

You can report suspected spam text messages to your mobile provider by forwarding them to 7726.

Information and advice scams
Coronavirus map scam
Links are being shared via various channels to a malicious website pretending to be the live map for Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins University.

Visiting the website infects the user with the AZORult trojan, an information stealing program which can gather a variety of sensitive data.

Anyone searching the internet for a Coronavirus map could unwittingly navigate to this malicious website.

Advice: If you don’t recognize a sender of an email, don’t click on any links within it. Keep your software up to date, use free antivirus software, pop-up blockers and firewalls and try to minimise downloads.

IT support
If you're working from home, be wary of uninvited approaches offering you IT help.

Criminals may use the current situation to pretend to be from IT departments or software providers to gain access to your personal and financial information. They may even ask you to download software onto your computer.

Advice:Always contact organisations directly using a known email or phone number that you know and trust.

Finance scams
Money's a big worry for a lot more people right now and criminals are finding new ways to exploit people's fears, targeting areas such as:

freeing up pensions

Our advice:
Never be rushed into anything and always use the Financial Conduct Authority's register to check if the company is regulated by them. If they're not, you may not be covered by the Financial Ombudsman Service and you could lose your money.

Loans – always speak to friends and family members if you're using a loan company you're unfamiliar with or if they ask for an upfront fee.

Pensions – speak to family and friends and seek professional independent advice. You can also get free advice from the Pension Advisory Service. You should also make sure you're fully briefed on tax and charges.

Investments – speak to family and friends and seek professional independent advice.

Doorstep scams
Criminals are knocking on doors and trying out tactics such as:

offering to take the temperature of elderly residents
claiming they're from the Red Cross and offering to do paid tests for the coronavirus
claiming to sell things like protective face masks and even hand sanitiser.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau says that it has already identified 21 reports of fraud where the coronavirus was mentioned – costing the victims a total of more than £800,000.

Advice: Always follow official Governmental guidelines in regards to advice and testing routes for Coronavirus. If someone knocks on your door and you feel threatened or pressured, call the police immediately.

Buying, selling and social media
With many shops shut, many people are going online to buy goods. Scammers are taking advantage of this and other situations such as disrupted travel to put fake information on social media and try to cash in.

Instances so far have seen:
a flight change scam, taking advantage of UK citizens stranded abroad
somebody spending £13,000 on hand sanitisers which, of course, didn't arrive
over 34,000 counterfeit surgical masks being seized in just one week at the start of March

Advice: Buy goods online only from reputable sources and use established websites for information about flights and travel.

Some schools have reported that parents and carers of children in receipt of free school meals are being targeted by fraudsters with messages such as:

'If your child is entitled to free school meals, send your bank details to the school and they will help with funding while the school is closed’.

The email contains links for the parents to follow if they want to receive the this funding.

Advice: Don't click these links, it's a scam.

Please share this information with parents and carers to make them aware.

You can report suspected spam text messages to your mobile provider by forwarding them to 7726.

michael hoy

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2008
It really is diabolical what these low life will do. We get a lot of data from NCSC and Gov on a regular basis updating on these scams.
Thanks for posting such a comprehensive list.


Aug 11, 2023
We are still receiving a fraudulent text posing as Microsoft Support. The message is sent from a random cloud Microsoft email address. Saying:
"Our system has detected unauthorized access to your account, and it appears that someone has made changes to your security settings and password. As a precautionary measure, we have temporarily locked your account to prevent any further unauthorized access. To regain control of your account and ensure the security of your information, contact the support team immediately at 8.6.6. 927. 023.7."


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