A DASTARDLY scam text circulating online attempts to swindle victims out of money using coronavirus fears as the bait, cyber-experts warn.
Crooks appear to be demanding cash from unsuspecting Brits, claiming they've been "fined" for going out too much during lockdown.
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Cyber-experts have repeatedly warned of a sudden surge in online scams.
Criminals are preying on the interest and confusion around coronavirus – and this new text scam is no different.
The message reads: "We would like to inform you that you have been recorded as leaving your homes on 3 occasions yesterday.
"A fine of £35 has been added to your gov.uk account.
"For further information please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-penalty-payment-tracking. Protect the NHS. Save lives."
However, the message is a total scam, and the link redirects to a non-governmental website.
It's designed to strike fear in the hearts of victims during the deadly coronavirus pandemic – in an attempt to extort money.
Once you hand over bank details to crooks, they can make off with your cash.
No such fine-over-text scheme that involves the Government recording your real-life movements exists.
"During times of crisis our human response is to seek out information, so attackers have learned to use this instinct against us," said Christoph Hebeisen, of cyber-firm Lookout, speaking to The Sun.
"The ongoing response to COVID-19 has created an opportunity for alarming yet plausible "hooks" that can be used by malicious actors in phishing attacks.
"Users need to be extra-vigilant for spear-phishing attacks that leverage our anxiety about this pandemic against us."
How to avoid falling foul of coronavirus scams
Here's what Javvad Malik, a cyber-expert at KnowBe4, told the Sun…
- "During the pandemic, we've seen a sharp rise in criminals trying to extort money or install malware on computers and mobiles through deceptive means.
- "Email is the most popular, but we've also seen a rise in the number of fraudulent text messages being sent.
- "People should remain sceptical and not click on links directly, particularly if there are demands for payment.
- "When in doubt, visit the government website directly to look for information.
- "Organisations should also educate their staff in how they will contact and convey information to them so they are not fooled by criminals posing to be from work."
If you have spotted cyber-crime, you can report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 between Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm.
We've asked the Action Fraud for comment and will update this story with any response.
In the meantime, be extremely wary of any suspicious links, texts or emails.
"Attackers will look for any opportunity to exploit human weakness," said cyber-expert Dean Ferrando, of Tripwire.
"And in this particular case, appealing to human nature tempting people to click on phishing links that might take them to medical sites, income recovery and educational links.
"There has also been an increase in appealing to human nature where fake sites set up to harvest personal information to help people in communities.
"Individuals must show extreme caution to all links and attachments sent to them and have the mindset that if it looks too good to be true, then avoid it at all costs."
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Have you spotted any coronavirus scams? Let us know in the comments!
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