IGA News

Be Aware Special: COVID-19 Scams

Be Aware Special: COVID-19 Scams

02 December 2021

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has published details on several scams that are targeting both businesses and the general public related to COVID-19.

Public hit with COVID-19 Omicron variant scam message - January 2022

Scammers continue to impersonate trading standards to defraud public

Back in April 2021, CTSI warned about letters sent to the public that informed them that trading standards have caught insurance scammers and that they should fill in a “creditors debt form” as part of a bogus compensation scheme. The letter, clad in CTSI branding, is entirely phoney and filling out the form, which requests personal details, puts the respondent at risk of financial theft.”

Initially, reports of the fraudulent letter came from people living in England; however, CTSI understands that scammers are sending it throughout the United Kingdom, with the letter recently materialising at a Scottish address. Click here for more information.

Public hit with COVID-19 Omicron variant scam message - December 2021

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence of a scam that uses the rising Omicron variant to dupe recipients.

Members of the public received an email clad in NHS branding as well as texts calling on them to “apply now for Omicron PCR test to avoid restrictions.”

The message claims that older PCR tests cannot detect the Omicron variant, that a new type of PCR test is required, and that supposedly, people should sign up to receive this new test. It then claims that individuals who refuse to be tested will be forced to isolate. It then links to a bogus website mock-up that looks like an official NHS platform. The website hosts a form that requests personal details that could potentially be used to access sensitive information, such as bank accounts. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 vaccine text scams targeting youngsters - December 2021

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has issued a warning to the public about text scams that target youngsters.

The message states: “NHS: you are eligible to apply for a Covid Pass proving you have been vaccinated against COVID-19” and is followed by a link to a bogus website designed to look like an official NHS platform. Click here for more information.

Phoney texts for NHS COVID-19 passes

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has been sent evidence of a text scam themed around the NHS COVID pass.

The message, which claims to be an official communication from the National Health Service (NHS), reads: “NHS: We’ve noticed you haven’t applied for your COVID pass, please follow the link to complete registration to avoid fees…”. The message then links to a website made to look like a real NHS platform that asks the recipient to provide personal details, supposedly for registration purposes, but which could be used to undertake identity fraud. Click here for more information.

Bogus coronavirus business grants

Internet users are receiving bogus emails from fraudsters offering fake business grants. The emails, dressed in UK government branding, are the latest in a series of scam messages claiming to be from the Government.

One email informs the recipient that they have been awarded a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant valued at £25,000. The message then asks the recipient to click a link and then enter their personal and payment details. The data is sent to scammers, who then deduct money from the account. Click here for more information.

Scams targeting homeworkers

A new scam is targeting homeworkers on video communications platform, Zoom. Homeworkers are receiving bogus texts and emails claiming to be from the popular Microsoft platform. One message claims to be from “Zoom Mail” which informs the recipient that a “Zoom voicemail” has been received and that they should call a premium rate number that the message claims costs “£6 plus std net rate”.

Another message, sent via email, pretends to be a Zoom conference call invitation that asks the recipient to click a link to “review invitation”. The link then leads to a fake login page which asks the recipient to put in their username and password, sending the information to scammers. Click here for more information.

NHS COVID-19 vaccine passport scam

This fake email is clad in NHS branding, informing the recipient that they can supposedly apply for a digital vaccine passport. The message claims that the so-called “Coronavirus Digital Passport” proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and “allow(s) you to travel safely and freely around the world without having to self-isolate.”

The email message links to a website built to look like an official NHS platform that asks the recipient to provide personal details, which could be used to commit identity fraud. Click here for more information.

Test and Trace scam

This ongoing scam mimics the UK Government’s COVID-19 Test & Trace system. Members of the public receive texts informing them that they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The message contains a link to a bogus website which asks for the personal details of the user, which could be used for identity theft. Click here for more information.

Fake COVID-19 home testing appointment texts

Bogus texts are informing members of the public that a “COVID Home Testing Team” will visit their homes, as an attempt by thieves to gain access to people’s homes under cover of coronavirus measures.

The text specifies a date and time for the visit and that the “team” will telephone the recipient upon arrival. The text becomes suspicious where it states that the team “will enter your property and we will remain inside the front door to put on our protective clothing. You must wait in a separate room before we come to you.” Click here for more information.

Report a scam

To report a scam to the UK authorities, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or fill in an online report via their website here.

If you believe you have been affected by any of the scams above, please contact us via our direct membership helpline number on 01788 225 908 or email us at enquiries@rmif.co.uk so we can make other members aware of what is happening.

This page will be updated with new scams as we are made aware of them.