North & West Gloucestershire Citizens Advice

The local CAB in Cheltenham, Forest of Dean, Gloucester and Tewkesbury

Coronavirus Fraud:

1. Banks reveal the 10 coronavirus scams to be wary of:

Local councils have recorded a 40% increase in reported scams since the start of lockdown, while Citizens Advice reckons one in three people have been targeted by a Covid scammer.

The ten scams to be wary of:

Covid-19 financial support scams
1. Fake government emails, which look like they are from government departments offering grants of up to £7,500. The emails contain links which steal personal and financial information.
2. Scam emails offering access to “Covid-19 relief funds”, which encourage victims to fill in a form and hand over their personal information.
3. Official-looking emails offering a “council tax reduction”. The emails contain links that lead to a fake government website, which harvests personal and financial information.
4. Benefit recipients are offered help in applying for universal credit, but fraudsters grab some of the payment as an advance for their “services”.

Health scams
5. Phishing emails claiming that the recipient has been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19. They lead to fake websites that are used to steal personal and financial information or infect devices with malware.
6. Fake adverts for non-existent coronavirus-related products, such as hand sanitizer and face masks, which simply take the victim’s cash and send them nothing.

Lockdown scams
7. Fake emails and texts claiming to be from TV Licensing, telling people they are eligible for six months for free because of the pandemic. Victims are told there has been a problem with their direct debit and are asked to click on a link that takes them to a fake website, which steals their personal and financial information.
8. Emails asking people to update their TV subscription services payment details by clicking on a link which is then used to steal credit card information.
9. Fake profiles on social media sites are used to manipulate victims into handing over their money. Criminals will often use the identities of real people to strike up conversation with their targets.
10. Fake investment opportunities are advertised on social media sites, encouraging victims to “take advantage of the financial downturn”. Bitcoin platforms are using emails and adverts on social media platforms to encourage unsuspecting victims to put money into fake companies using fake websites.

2. Coronavirus: Scam warning over NHS test and trace:

People are being warned to be on their guard against scammers posing as NHS contact tracers.

Local councils in England and Wales have issued alerts following reports of bogus calls and messages asking for money to cover the cost of coronavirus testing kits.
The councils include Hampshire, Bath and North East Somerset, and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Official tracers will never ask for payment of any kind or bank details.
The test and trace system is part of the government’s efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus, with contact tracers getting in touch with those who have had recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

However, a number of fraudsters are using this to their advantage and posing as contact tracers to deceive people into parting with money or personal details.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the “ruthless scam” was “another worrying and sickening attempt to trick people out of their money by preying on the public’s fears”.

A recent survey by Citizens Advice found more than one in three people in the UK have been targeted in various scams since lockdown began.
Chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, Simon Blackburn, said the latest scam to come to light undermined “vital work to save lives by exploiting people who want to do the right thing and stop the spread of the virus”.