Be Vigilant to COVID-19 Scams

Breakwater IT

Action Fraud reported that between 1st February 2020 and 18th March 2020, Coronavirus-related frauds increased by 400%. 

These frauds include phishing emails and online shopping scams. Throughout this situation we may all at times become vulnerable to these attacks. In times of desperation when trying to purchase supplies for staff or personal use, and when trying to keep up to date with current events, it’s easy to become a victim. 

Here are some of the common COVID-19 scams that are being used:

Online Shopping

Fake websites are being set up to sell in-demand items such as protective face masks, hand sanitisers and other cleaning products. These items never arrive.

If you can find these products for sale online, question how they are available given the current shortages. Have you used or heard of this site before? Is the connection on your browser showing as a trusted site? Make sure you do some research and try to find reviews or comments from others who may have purchased from the website. If you feel confident in the site, use a credit card to make payment. Most major credit card providers will insure your online purchase.

Phishing Emails

There are four common phishing emails currently being reported to Norfolk Police. These false emails will try to steal private information from you including passwords and bank details. The four trends reported recently include emails for fake cures, Coronavirus tax refunds, World Health Organisation (WHO) impersonations and Bitcoin payments asking for donations towards a cure.

These emails often look like they come from trusted sources such as HMRC, WHO, or various Government departments. If you are not expecting the email, do not click on any links or download attachments. Inspect the email carefully as fake emails can be hidden behind the ‘From’ section of the email. Look out for spelling mistakes, threatening language and requests for personal information. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with the sender impersonated to check if the email you received is legitimate. Taking action may allow these organisations to make others aware of the scam.


‘SMS phishing’ is similar to email phishing, but uses text messages. Posts are currently circulating of a smishing scam posing as the UK Government offering payment. The text message includes a link to a fake Gov.UK website where you can apply for funds. Once again, be on the look out for spelling errors, suspicious links or offers such as funding schemes that you have not heard about on the news. 

Be aware that there will be other types of scams out there that we haven’t listed above. For more information on spotting these attacks, view our guide to spotting phishing attacks. Download our guide to phishing attacks here.


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