Coronavirus: Fraud victims have lost more than £4.6m to virus-related scams | UK News

Fraud victims have lost more than £4.6m to coronavirus-related scams during the lockdown.

More than 2,000 victims lost cash through fake online goods sales, bogus cold-calls, non-existent pension plans and other frauds.

Another 11,206 people claim to have been victims of email (phishing) and text (smishing) attempts to trick them into giving out personal details.

The figures were released by Actionfraud, the UK’s online centre for reporting fraud and cyber crime.

Since the lockdown police forces have warned about many scams cashing in on the coronavirus pandemic, including the sale of fake or non-existent face masks, virus cures and treatments and testing kits.

Others have fallen victim to a pet scam, where bogus breeders collect deposits from customers who have not been allowed to travel to view the puppies and kittens they think they are buying.

Other fraudsters are offering bogus cheap loans, promising to fast track applications in return for an upfront fee.

Actionfraud said: “To keep this number as low as possible, we want people to be aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect themselves from handing over their money, or personal details, to criminals.”

In the past month 260 victims have reported receiving emails offering discounts on the TV licensing fee.

“The emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claim that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution. Recipients are told that they are eligible for a ‘COVID19 Personalized Offer’ of six months free.

“The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.

“Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it’s a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text.”

Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.

We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email [email protected]

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