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Covid-19 Scams

Scams related to Covid-19

Advice on how to protect yourself from the increase in scams using Covid-19 concerns, these can be in person, by post or online.

Covid-19 Scams

Recently the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) reported a new trend in fraud related to Coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Figures show that there has been a 400% increase in reports to Action Fraud in COVID-19 related fraud and scams.

Here are some of the Coronavirus scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:

Useful guides:

NCSC Guide: Text and SMS Message scams

(17.04.2020) Be aware of the current fraud activities and techniques ranging from courier fraud to online shopping fraud to copycat fundraising pages. The latest Covid-19 Fraud watch summary from the Fraud Advisory Panel also advises on the emerging fraud methods. Read all

(16.04.2020) Fake Letter about lockdown and disinfecting

  • The letter has been circulating on social media sites with a Met Police Logo stating that a ‘Code Red’ lockdown is being activated. The message mentions that on the 15th April at 9pm that London will be sprayed with disinfectant. This letter is fake and may have malicious links.
    Image of letter

Mandate FraudRead document

Fake miracle cures and vaccines

  • Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.

Fake home cleaning services

  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.

Fake refund emails

  • Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.

Product and shopping scams

  • There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money. As well as people offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

Malicious mobile apps

  • There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.

Using your personal information

Scammers are using channels like Facebook to gather personal information about you. These posts ask questions such as,

  • What was your favourite teacher’s name?
  • Who was your 1st grade teacher?
  • Who was your childhood best friend?
  • What was your first car?

Do these questions sound familiar? These are the same questions you are asked as security questions when setting up bank accounts and credit card accounts.

WHO and US Centers for Disease Control Scams

  • Action Fraud has warned that emails purporting to be from organisations including the US Centers for Disease Control and the WHO are being sent with the aim of tricking you into opening malicious attachments or giving away your passwords

Fake lockdown fines

  • People have been warned not to fall for a bogus text message saying they have been fined £35 for stepping outside during the coronavirus lockdown. The scam message claims to be from the government, telling the recipient their movements have been monitored through their phone and they must pay a fine or face a more severe penalty.

HMRC goodwill payment hoax

  • The MET police are warning of a fake message designed to steal your account details that says ‘As part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19 virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment’

Free school meals scam email

  • The Department for Education has issued warnings about a scam email designed to steal your bank details saying: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported.’

Fake emails from NHS

  • Watch out for unsolicited emails claiming to come from health bodies such as the NHS, the WHO and the CDC that may contain malicious links.

WhatsApp request to forward your code

  • A recent scam could grant hackers full access to your WhatsApp messages, photos and videos. Someone who knows your phone number could request to register your WhatsApp on a different device, and when a verification code is sent to you, the hacker will then message you to try and coax you into forwarding this on to them. They could then target your contacts with requests for money.


  • The FCA are urging people not to make rash pension decisions in the wake of the global pandemic, as criminals try to exploit public fears over the market turmoil to dupe victims out of their cash.
  • How to avoid pension scams: https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/how-avoid-pension-scams

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
  • Take your time; don’t be rushed.
  • Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.
  • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Know who you’re dealing with – if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to anyone.


Contact information:

  • If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
  • Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.


How else can you help?

Friends Against Scams is a National Trading Standards Scams Team initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering people to take a stand against scams.

  • Scams cost the UK economy £5-£10 Billion a year
  • 53% of people over 65 have been targeted by scams
  • Only 5% of scams are reported
  • Our statistics indicate that the average scam victim has lost over £3000

Anybody can join Friends Against Scams and make a difference in their own way.

Complete the online training and raise awareness throughout your community.