Police are urging people to be vigilant about the threat of new scams and from fraudsters exploiting the Covid-19 outbreak to steal money and sensitive data online.
The public is being advised to follow online safety advice, be aware of scam emails and rely on only trusted sources of information.
Examples of scams include a number which infect devices when recipients click on them:
- Bogus online maps claiming to show the spread of the disease
- Messages claiming to be from HMRC offering a tax refund due to changes in the law around Covid-19, recipients have to click a link which takes them to a fraudulent website.
- Messages claiming to be from the Centre for Disease Control or from the World Health Organisation offering recipients the chance to view a list of confirmed cases within their local area by clicking on a link and making a Bitcoin payment.
- Emails claiming to be from a virologist sending an attached document with instructions on how to avoid the coronavirus. The attachment is malicious.
- Fraudulent online sales of masks and hand sanitiser which never materialise. If an online shopping offer looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Individuals posing as medical staff conducting Covid-19 tests in your home.
DC Jon Hill, of Cumbria Constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, said: “The public obviously has a thirst for information in these difficult times. People are at home and they may go looking for information online about Covid-19. “The problem comes if they start clicking on unreliable web pages or opening links and attachments often sent by email – a common form of scam called ‘phishing’.
“We need people to follow and rely on only trusted sources of information and be aware of all suspect emails with supposed information on COVID-19, not to open any links or attachments that come with them and delete those emails.”Find more advice for online safety and internet security from the National Cyber Security Centre https://www.ncsc.gov.uk – to report a scam call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Key cyber crime prevention messages are:
- Don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails.
- Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details.
- Shopping online – If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know or trust, carry out research first and ask a friend or family member for advice. Where possible, use a credit card to make the payment.
- Protect your devices from the latest threats. Always install the latest software and app updates.