North Ayrshire and Arran SNP MP Patricia Gibson has highlighted criminals exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to unleash new scams and cheat people out of their money.
It comes after the UK’s National Cyber Security Agency announced it has removed over 2,000 online coronavirus related scams in March, including 471 fake online shops, 555 malicious content websites and 200 phishing sites.
The consumer protection organisation Which? described the coronavirus as creating a “perfect storm” for fraud and launched a new free scam alert service to warn consumers about the latest fraud attempts and give advice on how to protect yourself from them.
Commenting, Mrs Gibson said:
“While I have been heartened by seeing so many remarkable and selfless individuals coming to the aid of their communities at a time of crisis, it is despicable that a minority seek to profit by any means necessary; preying on the vulnerable to scam people.
“It is important that we are all extra vigilant, particularly when dealing with any unsolicited contact. Scammers will use emails, websites, texts, phone calls and even arrive on your doorstep. They will try and sell fake coronavirus testing kits, flog non-existent vaccines or cures, claim to be HMRC issuing tax refunds or the Government fining you for breaking lockdown rules.
“Only buy from trusted and legitimate sources, don’t be rushed into making decisions. Cyber security is crucial as we increasingly work, shop and socialise online. Don’t click on or open anything unless you are certain of the sender and report anything suspicious so it can be taken down by the authorities.
“Confusion creates fertile ground for scammers and we must all be extremely cautious to ensure we don’t fall prey to these despicable individuals”.
Gareth Shaw, Head of Money at Which? added:
“The coronavirus outbreak has created the perfect storm for scams, with fraudsters using callous tactics to exploit people’s fears and vulnerability for their own financial gain. As new scams spring up daily, our alert service aims to help people protect themselves and their loved ones.”
The free service from Which? is at: which.co.uk/scam-alerts