Criminals are trying to take advantage of these challenging times to prey on the most vulnerable. In reality, anyone- not just the most vulnerable members of society- can be a victim of an online scam.
The Nation Crime Agency (NCA) has identified multiple instances of fraudsters selling phony and dangerous personal protective equipment and coronavirus testing kits. Fraudsters are also impersonating Government departments, using phishing and social media, to trick victims into applying for bogus stimulus support. Criminals are persistently looking to exploit those of us abiding by the Government’s advice to stay home by stepping up attempts to access people’s home devices and networks to steal their money. To date, according to data reported to our national fraud reporting services, over £2.6m has been lost to coronavirus specific frauds and that figure rises daily.
Across Government and law enforcement, colleagues are working tirelessly to identify and prevent criminals from exploiting this unprecedented situation to inflict untold misery on victims. The NCA, working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), including arresting two people recently on suspicion over unregistered testing kits. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has thwarted 2,000 scams relating to the pandemic in the last month alone and recently launched a Suspicious Email Reporting Service which led to 395 phishing sites taken down in its first week.
Law enforcement and other operational partners cannot do their jobs properly if we do not take the necessary steps to protect ourselves. The NCSC in partnership with the Home Office have relaunched their Cyber Aware campaign, alongside their new Suspicious Email Reporting service.
The Government have also established a specific webpage on coronavirus related fraud and cyber crime. This contains easy-to-follow tips and signposts where to receive the most relevant advice and support. A link to the webpage can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-fraud-and-cyber-crime