Covid-19 fraud hits the £5m mark

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Losses from Covid-19 scams have passed the £5m mark, according to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre.

The Shropshire Star reported that Action Fraud figures showed £5,142,265-worth of fraud has been reported since February, Reports made to the organisation total more than 2,100.

The scams have included over 11,500 reports of coronavirus ‘phishing’ scams, i.e. where fraudsters attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by pretending to be trustworthy entities such as banks via an email.

Different scams

Action Fraud reported that scammers impersonate various organisations dealing with measures to stop the spread to the virus. The bank, the Trustees Savings Bank, and the fraud prevention body Cifas, which has more than 360 member organisations, have identified the most common Covid-19 scams fraudsters have used to target people in the UK.

They include:

  • Track and trace scams—fake apps, emails and texts telling people they have been in contact with someone who has the virus and asks them to click on a link or phone a number.
  • Home working—where scammers impersonate payroll departments or internet providers in an attempt to elicit sensitive information.
  • Bereavement—where criminals contact people, claiming they have been left money by a deceased relative and asking for their bank details in order to deposit money.
  • Phishing quizzes on social media that fool people into answering questions that reveal personal details to scammers.
  • Pension fraud where people convince victims to transfer their pension pots or to release funds.
  • Council tax refunds, where fraudsters text or email people pretending to come from their local authority or central government and promise a refund if the person hands over their bank account details.

Professional genealogists

Danny Curran, Finders International’s CEO and founder, said: “As probate genealogists whose job it is to identify the rightful beneficiaries to an estate when someone dies intestate, the fraud of most concern to us is obviously the bereavement scam.

“If you receive such a phone call or email, we would advise you to check its credentials carefully. What organisation does the individual claim to represent? It is possible for scammers to set up legitimate-looking websites but a genuine company will tend to have a landline, office address and credentials such as belonging to the Association of Professional Genealogists or the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers.

“There will be no charges upfront, nor any attempt to elicit your bank details from you until we have established your claim and you have signed a contract with us.”

You can report suspicious emails to Action Fraud here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/information/report-suspicious-emails

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Finders International is an award-winning probate research firm.  Our regulations and credentials include the IAPPR and Friends Against Scams; we are approved APSE partners and are the first probate research firm to be approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).  For a full list of our credentials, please visit our website here.  Alternatively, you can call +44(0) 20 7490 4935 or email [email protected]