Coronavirus scams

A close up of a sign

Peter Hine of Sibford Neighbourhood Watch is keeping an eye out for virus-related scams. We’ll keep this page up to date with his latest findings.

His main message is: don’t be alarmed, but do be aware.

Fraudsters tend to base their scams on current events to give them more credibility, and the fact that many bank branches are closed adds to the problem.

Latest warnings (8 January 2021)

Peter Hine writes: I know times are pretty depressing, wearing and a bit scary.  However, we may be in lockdown, but the thieving community is not. Among the many attempts to get their hands on your money, the following are particularly nasty.

Dyfed Powys Police Cyber Crime Unit are investigating attempts via e-mail, text and cold calling to lure people into applying for the Covid-19 vaccine. The FAKE NHS website states “We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine” – and guess what, they need your personal details for payment to be made!! As usual, the website is fairly convincing but please don’t be tempted to engage with these horrible people. There are no short cuts to getting the vaccine. (Thank you to our local member and resident for this info.)

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have warned that fraudsters are using online adverts to scam pension savers on an “industrial scale”.  These investment scams vary but usually involve promises of huge, inflation beating returns which are often claimed to be “guaranteed”.  Households are also warned to be wary of offers of a free “pension review”, which could be  “the first step of a process which will lead someone to investing in something which is too good to be true”.  Again, always check the provenance of these offers, however tempting. (Daily Telegraph 7.1.21)

Some other examples:

  1. Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there
    is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Treatment available aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover. The fake products available to buy online say they can protect you or cure coronavirus.
  2. Home cleaning services.
  3. People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
  4. Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
  5. There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
  6. Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone. Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.
  7. Text message purporting to be from the Government inviting you to click onto a link and receive a Covid-19 support payment.
  8. An ASDA offer advising that you are eligible for a free shopping voucher worth £500 “…and all we need are your bank details”!!!
  9. Crooks knocking on doors offering shopping services for cash upfront or card and PIN details, or claiming to be health workers to gain access to vulnerable peoples’ homes. Remember, the Sibford Support Group (SSG), whilst offering help, does not cold call – that is to say turning up on your doorstep unannounced. Should you get strangers knocking on your door claiming to be from the Group, ignore them and immediately telephone your friends, your neighbours, me, or old bill. Without putting yourself at risk, a few photos of the callers and their vehicles may help.
  10. Pension savers please be extra vigilant. The stock market crash may well have left investors feeling anxious and vulnerable to such fraudsters. If you are contacted out of the blue about your pension (phone, email, text or on social media), and are offered free advice, free pension review or ‘early access’ schemes etc, do not engage with these people – they are crooks. Action Fraud has seen a very large increase in such scams.
  11. Zoom has become very popular for online conferencing. Read this guide for using Zoom safely.

There is more information about protecting yourself in this Scams Awareness Letter from Oxfordshire County Council.

Peter can be contacted on 788 830.