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Police urge public to stay safe online as fraudsters exploit fears over Coronavirus

DYFED-Powys police is urging the public to stay safe online as fraudsters exploit fears over the Coronavirus.

Since February 2020, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling over £800k.

One victim reported losing more than £15,000 when they purchased protective face masks that were never delivered.

Fraudsters have also been using phishing emails to trick people into opening malicious attachments.

Senders purport to be from official bodies who are monitoring the virus, and may provide victims with a supposed list of ‘active infections’ in the area.

To access the information victims must click on a link, which redirects them to a credential-stealing page.

In the same phishing campaign, fraudsters ask for a donation with payment to be made into a Bitcoin account and a Bitcoin wallet is provided.

Paul Callard, Economic Crime Team Manager at Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “It would seem that criminals are stooping to the lowest level, playing upon people’s fears surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

“Legitimate agencies and organisations are highly unlikely to cold-call or send unsolicited emails to individuals in relation to Covid-19 and members of the public should take steps to safeguard themselves.

“These include not giving out personal or medical information unless you can be sure the person you are speaking to is who they say they are, and thinking carefully before clicking on email or web links.

“When shopping online only use trusted payment methods such as PayPal, and check online reviews for the company before deciding to purchase.

“Thankfully as yet we have not received any of these reports in the force area, but I would encourage people to be vigilant and share this message with friends and families, in particular those who are elderly or vulnerable.”

For official advice from the NHS regarding Coronavirus (Covid-19) visit nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

For more information on how to shop online safely, please visit actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely

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