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Coronavirus scams, found and explained

Right now, safeguarding ourselves, our loved ones, friends and colleagues from COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is uppermost in people’s minds in the UK and around the world. After all, this is an unprecedented situation which warrants unprecedented precautions.

Also of great importance, however, is making sure we also remain safe in the online world. Invariably, a crisis affecting large numbers of people triggers a huge volume of fraudulent activity.

With Coronavirus, expect fake ads for anything from vaccines to facemasks, links to sensational news and video, bogus charity appeals, and phishing emails claiming to be from travel, compensation and insurance companies or event/tournament organisers. Fraudsters know that at times like these, we may be too concerned or preoccupied with other things, to spot that something isn’t right.

Here are some of the online scams (and variations of these) that we have been made aware of since the onset of the Coronavirus outbreak

  • Online shopping scams where people have ordered protective facemasks, hand sanitiser and other products, which have never arrived.

  • Fraudsters claiming to be from the Red Cross or other organisations, offering via emails, texts, social posts or phone calls to do the shopping for the elderly, vulnerable or NHS and other keyworkers and taking their money (normally by bank transfer).

  • Emails, texts, posts claiming to be from the NHS, collecting money towards development of a vaccine.

  • Texts, emails, posts claiming to be from various charities, inviting donations to Coronavirus victims/families or other related good causes.

Here’s an example of a scam text, claiming to be sent by the Government, offering a payment related to the coronavirus. On the left is the text; on the right is the web page you’ll be taken to if you click on the link in the text.

However, look at the URL – it does not link to the UK Government website. It is a fake website which requires you to enter your personal details – it is a phishing scam

  • Fraudsters claiming to be from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO), saying they will provide a list of active infections in their area. The link actually takes victims to a malicious web page capturing personal details or malware downloads, or they are asked to make a donation of support with a payment into a Bitcoin account.

  • Articles on the coronavirus which link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates. The link is fraudulent.

  • Coronavirus Bitcoin scam again promises “millions” working from home

  • There is a text in circulation doing the rounds claiming to be from HMRC, offering NHS workers tax refund ‘as a goodwill payment, beware of dodgy links, always go to official websites.

Find out more info, security help, tips & advice from

Surfsafely will be providing a security checklist shortly to enable best practices for a safe and secure online experience.

If you think your PC or laptop has been compromised or require help or advice, please get in touch with SurfSafely on Tel: 0345 24 12 133 or email

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