People in Sheffield are being warned about the latest coronavirus scams that have cost victims £800,000 in just one month

Fraudsters are using the coronavirus outbreak to target victims with heartless scams – and people in Sheffield are being warned to be vigilant.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 11:47 am
Updated Monday, 16th March 2020, 3:32 pm

The National Fraud and Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports of fraud relating to the coronavirus since February 2020.

Ten of the reports were made by victims who attempted to buy protective face masks from fake sellers. A common tactic used by the fraudsters is to contact victims over email purporting to be from research organisations affiliated with the centres for disease control and prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The fraudsters claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of people infected with the disease. In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

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A Polish health official wears protective clothes as he checks the temperature of Poles returning home at the Polish-German border from the eastern German town of Frankfurt (Oder) to Slubice on March 16, 2020, as measures are taken to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

One victim reported losing over £15,000 when they purchased face masks that were never delivered.

A spokesperson for Action Fraud said: “We have also received multiple reports of Coronavirus-themed phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial information.”

The number of reports is expected to rise as the virus spreads across the world.

Action Fraud has provided a list of helpful tips to beat the scammers.

These include watching out for any messages likely to be a con – don’t click on the links and attachments in any suspicious emails, and never respond to any unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal and financial details.

In addition, when shopping online carry out some research first or ask for advice before making a purchase from a company or person you don't know or trust. Use a credit card if possible, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

Visit www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely for more information or see www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices for details about how to protect your computer and mobile phone from the latest threats.

Log on to www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for details of how to stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak.