Scamwatch: Brexit email fraud

C50YCX Frustrated young girl in angry mood with laptop lying on white surface
C50YCX Frustrated young girl in angry mood with laptop lying on white surface

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, how fraudsters are taking advantage of Britons' post-Brexit concerns to trick them into uploading malicious software.

How does it work?

If you have a personal email address, you have probably received a number of spam emails about Brexit.

But security experts are urging people not to open or click on the links embedded in these messages due to worries about fraud.

According to security company Digital Shadows, there has been a surge in email "phishing" scams since the referendum, with cybercriminals aiming to capitalise on post-Brexit fears.

"We have certainly noted an increase in the use of Brexit-related topics in email to encourage users to click on content since the referendum," it said.

Those who open the emails and/or click on links within them run the risk of their devices being attacked with malware and spyware that can be used to access their personal information and steal their money.

How can I avoid being caught out?

If you want to read about Brexit, it is best to search for stories from a reputable source such as AOL online, rather than opening an unsolicited email about the vote.

Digital Shadows is advising anyone who receives an email of this nature from an unknown source to delete it immediately.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you are taken in by a Brexit email scam, it is vital to change any passwords and login details that may have been made available to the fraudsters behind it.

You should also conduct a malware check using an online virus scanner such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner. Then report the problem to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).