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Surrey police logo expandedSURREY POLICE FRAUD ALERT

Surrey Police are warning people stay on the alert as reports of fraud or attempted fraud related to Covid-19.

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products which have never arrived.

Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, charity fraud and lender loan fraud.

There have also been many reports of coronavirus-themed 'phishing' emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details.

Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:

  • Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimics the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area, but to access this information the victim needs to either click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account.
  • Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
  • Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus stockmarket downturn.
  • Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.

Locally, we have had a report of email scams relating to TV licensing.

You can protect yourself by:

  • watching out for scam messages - don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious or out of the blue emails and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
  • when shopping online, if you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carrying out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
  • protecting your devices from the latest threats - always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.

There is lots more advice about avoiding cybercrime relating to Covid-19 in the police newsletter at:  https://www.surrey.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/media/downloads/sussex/advice/operations-initiatives-and-watch-schemes/operation-signature/ccu-newsletter.pdf

If you think you have been a victim you can report to Action Fraud, but elderly or vulnerable persons should report directly to Surrey Police on 101 or online.