Watch out for COVID-19 scams

Deal editor1
Posted 25th Mar
Unfortunately, there are some despicable people out there who are willing to exploit any and every situation. Criminals willing to take advantage of the vulnerable and elderly people of the world, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Some of the things to watch out for are fake hand santisers and cleaning products, sham charities asking for donations, and even offers to run errands for the vulnerable which are then not carried out.

Fraudsters are doing this by preying on vulnerable people at their doorstep or over the phone, to take fraudulent donations or sell bogus products they suggest can help protect — exploiting fears of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: “At a time when neighbourhoods and communities are coming together to support each other, it is despicable that heartless criminals are exploiting members of the public – including some of our most vulnerable citizens – to line their own pockets.

He continued by advising that everyone should “be on their guard” and to “look out for vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who may become a target”.

Lord Harris called for communities to protect one another and said, “If you see anything suspicious, report it to Action Fraud or to speak to someone for advice, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.”


National Trading Standards identified the following scams:

Doorstep crime

Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.

Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.

Online scams

Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails have lured people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.

Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps – that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. A prominent example that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.

Refund scams

Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.

Counterfeit goods

Fake sanitisers, face masks and Covid19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.

Telephone scams

As more people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.

Donation scams

There have been reports of thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.

Loan sharks

Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence

Neighbourhoods are being encouraged to protect one another by joining Friends Against Scams, which provides free online training which empowers people to take a stand against fraudsters. To complete the online modules, visit Friends Against Scams

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1 Comment
I’d like to think I’m very wise and can spot a scam a mile off. Almost got caught out yesterday with a very believable email from Netflix offering 3 months free due to current circumstances. Sounded very believable given a lot of these offers have been going about. Only noticed after reading to the end the last part didn’t make sense and clicked in x
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