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26 Jan, 2021 16:32

Fraudsters exploit Covid-19 vaccine rollout confusion with email scam, NHS warns

Fraudsters exploit Covid-19 vaccine rollout confusion with email scam, NHS warns

The NHS has warned UK residents that scammers are attempting to exploit confusion around the ongoing pandemic to steal bank details and personal information with fraudulent invitations about Covid-19 vaccine appointments.

Images of one such scam email circulating online show that it claims to be a “public health message from NHS” asking recipients to click a link to accept or decline their invitation. Once someone has clicked the link, the fraudulent site asks people for their bank details to supposedly verify their identity before requesting a payment.

The NHS responded to reports of the scam by clearly stating that it would never ask someone for their bank details or personal documentation in order for people to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, as it’s free of charge.

According to a cybersecurity consultant who spoke to the BBC, data from the scammer’s website showed thousands had been duped into clicking the link, though they aren’t able to tell how many people have gone ahead and filled in the form.

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Katherine Hart, from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, who has been tracking scams since the start of the pandemic, warned that “at every stage of response, unscrupulous individuals have modified their campaigns to defraud the public.”

The vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others.

This is the latest attempt by fraudsters to exploit the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. Earlier this month, the NHS warned that fake text messages were being sent out to try to steal people’s bank details.

Alongside digital scams, there have been reports of fraudsters calling to people’s doors in an attempt to sell fake personal protective equipment or pretending to be from the Covid-19 test and trace service, demanding payments.

These fraudulent activities appear largely targeted at elderly or vulnerable people who are in the UK’s first priority group for vaccines and are likely seen as more susceptible to these kinds of scams.

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