Greater Manchester Police has issued fraud prevention advice against scams using the coronavirus as a way to take money from innocent members of the public.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has reported that since February 2020, victims in the UK have reported losses totalling over £800k.
Many of the scams involve criminals posing as genuine organisations such as banks, police officers or health providers and contacting victims by email, phone or text message. The fraudsters may then claim to provide medical guidance, investment opportunities or a safe place to transfer and keep money using coronavirus as a cover story. Victims are then tricked into disclosing personal or financial information or clicking on links which may contain malware.
Detective Superintendent Estelle Mathieson, Head of GMP’s Economic Crime and Cyber Unit, said: “There is currently a lot of publicity surrounding the coronavirus and it has come to our attention that fraudsters are using what is a time of uncertainty for many and exploiting innocent people out of their hard earned money.
“It is likely that nationally, scams of this type will rise as the virus situation continues, and GMP is committed to identify and targeting these offenders as well as promoting advice to the public. The more information we can give people about fraud and how to protect themselves, the easier it will be to stop it from taking place.
“I would urge the public to follow our advice and take the time to think before they part with their money or sensitive information.
“Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of fraud to report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
GMP's advice is as follows:
- Watch out for scam messages: Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
- Shopping online: If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases. For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely
- Protect your devices from the latest threats: Always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats. For information on how to update your devices, please visit: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices