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Residents are being warned that fraudsters are exploiting the spread of coronavirus to facilitate various types of fraud and cybercrime.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 21 reports of fraud where coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800,000. Ten of these reports were made by victims that attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers.

Fraudsters are sending out coronavirus-themed emails to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.

Fraudsters are also pretending to be from research organisations linked to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area and the link to the information leads to a malicious website.

Cllr Piers Allen, Lead Member for Adult Social Services and Health, said:

“It is disgraceful that criminals want to capitalise on the concerns of residents. My advice to all is to be vigilant with any coronavirus (COVID-19) messaging that you may receive. As with all scam messages, don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal details.

“Please make any elderly or vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours aware of the scams and follow advice from Public Health England on protecting yourself against coronavirus (COVID-19).”

More information

– from a Richmond Council press release - 9 March 2020