Warning over coronavirus email voucher scam

Shoppers are being warned of an email voucher scam themed around the coronavirus pandemic which attempts to steal credit card details.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said it has found evidence of a voucher scam looking to exploit concerns around the Covid-19 lockdown.

The fake voucher claims to be from supermarket chain Asda and suggests the recipient has received a voucher for money off shopping during the quarantine.

It then asks recipients to click a link to claim the coupon, at which point it tries to obtain the user’s credit card details.

The CTSI has said that while the process of the scam itself was not new, it was concerning to see new ones appearing that tried to play on fears linked to the Covid-19 outbreak.

CTSI lead officer Katherine Hart said: “This particular kind of scam is an old one, but the scammers have updated the theme to reflect the coronavirus pandemic.

An example of a fake supermarket voucher used as part of an email scam
An example of a fake supermarket voucher used as part of an email scam

“I am particularly concerned that many may jump at this opportunity to get money off their shopping while many people are newly unemployed, or facing a reduction in their salaries during the lockdown.

“Sometimes, there are telltale signs that the voucher offer is a scam, such as poor spelling and grammar; however, this is not always the case, and many look identical to official supermarket emails.

“The public should never click the links or input their card details. If an offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Everyone must be extra vigilant and sceptical of what they receive in their email inbox, on their phones and at the front door at this time.”

Reporting of the scam comes as Europol warns in a new report that cybercriminals have been among the most adept at exploiting the pandemic for scams and other types of cyberattacks.

It also warns that activity around the distribution of child sexual exploitation material online appears to be on the increase.