Covid jab scams emerging as significant fraud threat, bank warns

Coronavirus vaccination scams are emerging as a significant fraud threat to consumers, according to a major bank.

NatWest said it has seen an increase in customers reporting vaccination scams to it this week, as it highlighted various frauds for people to be alert to.

Bogus tax refunds and purchase scams are also among current scams, the bank said.

Some fraudsters have been offering pets that do not exist for sale, as well as hot tubs and camper vans.

NatWest said phone calls, emails or texts about Covid jabs are sent in an attempt to steal personal and financial details.

Messages contain links to a fake NHS website with an application form to register for the vaccine asking for various personal and bank details, which are then used by criminals.

Jason Costain, head of fraud at NatWest, said: “During last year’s lockdown criminals took advantage of more people working remotely and online. It therefore makes sense to take some simple steps to make yourself and your family more fraud-proof.”

Here are some scams that NatWest is warning people to watch out for:

1. Postal delivery scams

With more shopping taking place online, criminals have been using fake delivery company emails to collect personal information, which they may then use to commit further fraud.

2. Purchase scams

Criminals will offer goods for sale that are in high demand.

NatWest’s customers have reported scams involving pets that do not exist, games consoles, mobile phones and hot tub scams and camper vans.

NatWest said that if someone sees a good deal advertised on auction websites or on social media, they should be careful.

It suggests following the payment advice on the website and not paying directly into someone’s bank account until they have taken delivery of the goods.

3. Coronavirus vaccination scams

A phone call, email or text message is sent in an attempt to steal personal and financial details.

The message contains a link to a fake NHS website with an application form to register for the vaccine asking for various personal and bank details to “confirm your address”. This information is then used by criminals to target the person’s bank account.

4. Fake coronavirus tax refunds

Criminals are bombarding inboxes with fake emails, texts and calls claiming entitlement to a support grant or tax rebate due to coronavirus.

The aim is to encourage people to hand over personal details such as their name, date of birth, address and sometimes even payment card details, which they then use to steal money. Emails can be reported to report@phishing.gov.uk.

Once criminals have someone’s details, they will often call them, pretending to be from their bank’s fraud team, trying to persuade them to move your money to a “safe account” or give away card reader codes.

5. Offers to make ‘quick money’

Criminals try to lure people into becoming money mules through “get-rich-quick” job offers.

If someone offers you money to use your bank account, refuse and alert the police, NatWest said.

It added that the personal consequences of allowing criminals to pay money through an account can be life-changing.

NatWest has more information about scam avoidance on its website at https://personal.natwest.com/personal/fraud-and-security/fraud-guide.html

Scams should be reported to Action Fraud – https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

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