Cifas weekly coronavirus scam update – fake vaccines, pension scams and PayPal phishing links

Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, is highlighting the latest coronavirus scams from the past week, and warning the public to stay vigilant of the ever-changing tactics that scammers are using to extract money and information.

This week Cifas has been made aware of the following scams:

Phishing NHS vaccine text message

Consumers are being warned to not engage with a scam text encouraging recipients to provide their bank details in order to receive the coronavirus vaccine. After following the link provided in the text, which claims to come from the NHS, recipients are asked to provide personal information and bank details for verification purposes. Fraudsters may use your personal details to commit identity fraud and pay for items and services using your bank details.

Anyone who receives this text should not click on the link and report the text to Action Fraud. If you have previously provided your details in this scam, contact your bank immediately and contact Action Fraud via their website, or Scottish residents can report to Police Scotland via 101.

Fake coronavirus vaccine being injected

A shocking report has emerged of a 92 year-old victim being charged £160 for a fake coronavirus vaccine after the threat actor posed as a member of NHS staff when he appeared at the victim’s home. Despite the victim not showing any ill effects from the fake jab, police say this scam endangers people’s lives.

The NHS will never ask you to pay for your coronavirus vaccination and will contact you in advance to let you know when you will be receiving your vaccination. Vaccinations are only available via the NHS in the UK and are not available through other means.

PayPal phishing text

A scam text asking PayPal users to verify their account in order to avoid their profile being permanently limited has been identified. In the text message which claims to come from PayPal, recipients are asked to log in via a link provided in the text to verify their account in order to allow them to continue using PayPal to make payments online while in lockdown. The link leads to a phishing website designed to look like the official PayPal login page to enter their credentials as well as personal and bank details.

If you have provided this information, log in to your PayPal account and change your password. You should also check your recent transactions on PayPal and any bank accounts you have linked to your PayPal account. If you see any transactions you do not recognise, contact your bank and PayPal immediately and report it to Action Fraud or Police Scotland.

Fake comparison site facilitating investment fraud

Research has found a fourfold increase in victims of investment fraud being defrauded after using fake comparison websites to buy bonds and other investments. These fake sites, such as the now removed ‘Top Wealth Bonds’, are designed to look like genuine comparison sites and are advertised on search engines and social media sites to encourage victims to input their details so fake leaflets and prospectuses can be sent to them. These materials are also intended to look and feel real, often by using genuine well-known brand names.

Consumers are warned to be wary when parting ways with money, and if you are unsure as to whether an investment opportunity is genuine, contact the company directly by using details provided on their official website. You should also check whether the company offering the investment are authorised by the FCA to do so on the FCA Register.

Amber Burridge, Head of Fraud Intelligence for Cifas, said: ‘Heartless fraudsters are continuing to use the uncertainty of the latest lockdown and the news of the vaccine to trick consumers into parting with their personal and banking details. Consumers need to be vigilant against being contacted and being asked to click on links or provide personal or banking details.’

‘During these uncertain times it may be tempting to review your finances and look at alternative means of income, such as through investments. With interest rates being at an all-time low, criminals will look to dupe victims by offering high returns on investments. Unfortunately once money has been invested into these scams, it can take a long period of time to realise you have been defrauded, making it more difficult to get your money back.’

‘If you are contacted by anyone asking for your information or money, take a moment to stop and think before parting with your details.’