The BBC has warned scammers have been pretending to be the British Government in a bid to steal money through SMS scams. Fraudsters have been impersonating top organisations and demanded phone owners pay hefty fines for leaving their homes despite rules currently in place urging everyone to stay inside during the coronavirus pandemic. BBC 5Live Business reporter Sean Farringdon said: “In theory, we should have all received that text from the Government telling us to stay at home with the messaging we’ve heard so much of.
“A lot of scammers…it’s called smishing, SMS phishing, where fraudsters are sending text messages impersonating other organisations.
“This opportunity for them to try to impersonate the Government follow up on that official message with a link to click on. What they are able to do is give the impression it’s from the same account that the Government sent its text from but that often isn’t the case.
“The simple thing for me is, if there’s a link, don’t click on it. Don’t use that link.
“Some big figures around, since the beginning of February nearly £1million lost on online scams linked to coronavirus.”
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Katy Woroback, head of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said scammers have been playing on the fears Britons have been feeling because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
She also warned more online and text scams are likely to sprout out because of a minor misstep from the Government.
Ms Woroback said: “We are not seeing much of a change in the fraud level yet because the type of text you are talking about is one that induces people to give away personal details or to having malware downloaded onto their computer or phone.
“What we are really worried about is the fact that people are being panicked and pressured into thinking that they are dealing with the Government or some other organisation and, clearly, it’s playing on people’s fears.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) reported a rise in scams related to COVID-19 since the outbreak began.
The Institute warned scammers have been exploiting every mean available, be it doorstep or email or text scam, to defraud Britons at these difficult times.
Katherine Hart, CTSI’s Lead Officer, said: “The list of new scams associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic grows by the day.
“I am appalled and infuriated at the ways unscrupulous individuals exploit this situation.
“We see new scams daily, and I would urge people to seek advice before replying to any messages they receive.”
Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 07:22:00 +0000