It has been brought to our attention that within 24 hours of HMRC launching their COVID19 Job Retention Scheme website, fraudsters had sent countless phishing emails in the hope of tricking legitimate business owners.
These emails, attempt to get hold of the recipient’s banking details and state: “Dear customer, we wrote to you last week to help you prepare to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are now writing to tell you how to access the COVID-19 relief. You will need to tell us which UK bank account you want the grant to be paid into, in order to ensure funds are paid as quickly as possible to you.”
It is extremely important that you think twice before handing over bank details and making bank transfers in response to email requests during the pandemic and if in any doubt regarding the legitimacy of any emails, we are more than happy to advise wherever we can.
GCHQ has now stepped into the breach and is asking the public to report any suspicious emails they receive and we would strongly recommend you doing this as it will only help to catch these fraudsters who are preying on people at the most vulnerable of times.
Through its offshoot, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), it recently launched a suspicious email reporting service urging the public to forward any questionable emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. The NCSC’s automated scanning system will then check them, and immediately shut down and remove offending criminal sites.
The reporting service was created after the organisation removed more than 2,000 online coronavirus scams over the last month, including 471 fake online shops selling fraudulent coronavirus-related items, 555 malware distribution sites set up to inflict significant damage to visitors and 832 advance-fee frauds promising a large sum of money in return for a set-up payment.
Meanwhile, the Charities Commission has also issued warnings after online fraudsters and criminals targeted the sector with coronavirus-related activity, again if you are unsure of any communications then please do let us know as we will be happy to check and advise.