Beware of these two coronavirus scams that can deceive EVERYONE: The Police Warns of Fraudsters Trying to ‘Abuse the Public’
- Scam text messages are said to come from the government and HMRC
- The government text appears under a legitimate coronavirus warning
- It told the recipient that they owed £ 35 after being caught leaving the house three times
- The Metropolitan Police warned people to be extra vigilant as the UK fraud reporting service revealed that £ 970,000 had been lost in coronavirus scams
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Fraudsters have hijacked official government communications to try to defraud people. The first text is legitimate, the second is not
Indecent fraudsters falsify official government telephone numbers and impersonate the tax authorities in an effort to worry the British about transferring money or transferring their bank account details.
A screenshot posted to social media platform Twitter by Sky News political journalist Tamara Cohen showed that scammers had successfully hijacked the thread of a true official government coronavirus warning service that sent a text message earlier this week.
The message – apparently from the real number – told the recipient to pay a £ 35 fine after ‘registering three times as departed’.
There are then two links that the recipient could open. These are likely to go to untrustworthy websites that want to steal personal information or install malware.
Given the current climate, many may panic at the message and click on the link without properly processing the content.
Fraudsters can send messages that seem to come from real numbers – such as government or banks – with cheap services available online and offering ‘number forgery’, which we explain in more detail below.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police shared an SMS claiming that it came from a line labeled ‘coronavirus’ telling the recipient that they owed a £ 258 ‘goodwill payment’ from HMRC and that they should have the link follow to get it.
Following the link would likely have resulted in victims providing their bank details to fraudsters, who could then use them for identity theft or simply stealing money from bank accounts.
The Metropolitan Police have warned people to be extra vigilant for fraudsters at this time
It posted a screenshot of another fake text claiming that the recipient owed a goodwill payment from the taxpayer. Following the link would likely lead to fraudsters collecting bank details
The fraud reports come less than a week after the UK’s Anti-Fraud Office Action Fraud of the UK revealed that £ 970,000 had been lost since early February with coronavirus-related scams.
While the majority were dealing with online shopping scams, with people ordering masks or hand sanitizers that never arrived, there were more than 200 reports of phishing emails.
The Metropolitan Police wrote on Twitter: ‘We are aware that scammers are sending text messages like the ones below to take advantage of unsuspecting members of the public at the moment.
“Never click on links that are included in an SMS or email unless you are 100 percent sure it has been verified.”
People can get caught in this amount of spoofing scam, especially if they are part of a series of otherwise legitimate text messages and given the worried condition, many are in the coronavirus pandemic.
Number spoofing or smishing scams can also ask recipients to call a phone number, this is usually done when fraudsters impersonate banks and customers question suspicious transactions; what banks actually do.
Because the number has been forged successfully, these lyrics often look like they came from a legitimate number, be it a bank, the tax office, the police, or in this case the official government coronavirus warning rule.
Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at antivirus provider ESET, said, “Number forgery is a very clever trick that adds authenticity when disguised as a legitimate text message, especially if you already have a message in your inbox from that sender.
The technique works by creating an SMS account that matches a real sender ID. Sender IDs for text messages don’t have to be numeric, so once it matches a real sender as alphanumeric text, it can sometimes fill in further messages in previous threads. ‘
Tips to avoid fraud with number forgery
1. Do not click on a link or open an attachment to an email or text message that you receive unsolicited
2. Don’t rely on the caller’s display on your phone or text messages – fraudsters can manipulate them. If the text seems to alert you to a real security problem, call the company at a trusted number.
3. Protect your computer and mobile devices with the most up-to-date security software
4. Do not transfer money unless you know and trust the person and have personally checked that the details are correct and come from a trusted source.
5. The bank, police, HMRC or government will never contact customers or ask them to click on a link to provide information or transfer money to a ‘secure account’
HMRC has tried to tackle the practice and told This is Money last June that it partnered with Ofcom and the telecom industry to prevent spoofing of 1,050 numbers used by scammers.
It said it received nearly 105,000 telephone scam reports in 2018-19.
The technology needed for this scam is relatively cheap to get, and a person at a major high street bank expressed his displeasure last year that the practice had still not been eradicated.
Meanwhile, people are being warned to be double vigilant at a time when people are likely to be even more stressed than normal and more information and disinformation is circulating.
Jim Winters, head of fraud at Barclays: “Unfortunately, fraudsters take advantage of the current situation and try to trick people into providing sensitive information or making payments.
If you receive an SMS or email, do not click on links and do not provide personal information such as your bank account password and financial information. This is a disturbing time for everyone and it’s easy to be on the lookout for scams – stay vigilant and think before you click. ‘