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21 Apr, 2020 07:07

Police warn well-meaning Britons to be wary of ‘despicable criminals’ using Covid-19 to con them out of their hard-earned cash

Police warn well-meaning Britons to be wary of ‘despicable criminals’ using Covid-19 to con them out of their hard-earned cash

Action Fraud, the UK’s task force for combating cyber crime, has urged caution online as a wave of generosity washes over the UK, and one study identifies EIGHTY THOUSAND “malicious” new domain names.

The fraud agency, part of the City of London Police, told RT this week that “despicable criminals” were trying to exploit the crisis, saying that they were taking advantage of the public’s generosity by “setting up fake charity pages or sending scam emails asking for donations.”

A spokesperson offered advice to stop well-meaning citizens’ money “ending up in a criminal’s pocket”.

They said that if you “receive a call, text or email out of the blue asking for charitable donations, take a few minutes to think whether this could be a scam,” adding that users should not “click on any links or attachments” they receive.

One investigation by an online privacy firm has identified over 80,000 “malicious” new domain names that have sprung up relating to the pandemic.

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Another study reported that 23 percent of adults they surveyed had been targeted by Covid-19-related digital fraud.

Britons have responded with great gusto to a range of money-raising ideas to help the country and the NHS through the coronavirus outbreak.

Efforts by a World War II veteran, 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore, have raised more than £26 million for the NHS by walking his garden using his zimmer frame, and the wildly popular Run For Heroes Instagram challenge has raked in over £2 million in donations.

But while these numbers have inspired the best of British in some people, ruthless chancers and con artists have viewed people’s generosity as easy prey to make a fast buck.

A raft of spurious websites claiming to be charitable organisations or offering to provide “training” in how to combat the spread of the virus have sprung up.

ProPrivacy.com, a site dedicated to helping users protect themselves online, has analysed over 300,000 new internet domains that have sprung up since the outbreak of Covid-19. Their research showed that over 80,000, more than a quarter of those so far analysed, were “malicious” in their intent. Research director and digital privacy advocate Sean McGrath told RT.com they were “tracking all new domain registrations” and identifying those that may have been “weaponised”.

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Solomon Gilbert, the head of cyber security at We Fight Fraud, a company dedicated to fighting con artists, revealed that while he had seen a “spike of around a 25 percent increase in online fraud attacks following the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the latest information shows that increase could be as high as 80 percent.”

Action Fraud advised users that if they wanted to donate to a charity online the safest way to do so was via the charity’s official website, and asked anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime to file a report on the Action Fraud website.

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