Police issue warning about text scam during coronavirus outbreak

The texts look very realistic...
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Amid all the coronavirus panic, police have warned that scammers are using it as an opportunity to steal people's money.

    This coronavirus text scam looks realistic, with messages designed to look like official communication from the UK government.

    The messages suggest that people have been given money by the government, or that they are going to be punished for spending time outdoors.

    Official government rules now state that UK citizens should not leave the house unless its for essential grocery shopping, medical care, exercise, or commuting where working from home is not possible.

    These texts are exploiting people during the coronavirus outbreak, using widespread panic to trick people into giving them money.

    An example of this message reads, ‘As part of the NHS promise to battle the COV-19 virus, HMRC has issued a payment of £258 as a goodwill payment’.

    Apparently details of the payout can vary between messages, with two examples being used.

    Some texts are claiming it’s from the NHS as part of its outbreak response, whilst others say it’s issued by the government.

    coronavirus text scam

    Credit: Getty Images

    However, they all have links attached which are very similar to the branding of the official UK government website.

    Once you’ve clicked on the link, it will ask for card details to ‘refund’, but these are used to take money from the victim.

    Metropolitan Police have issued a statement warning UK citizens about these texts.

    It reads, ‘We are aware of scammers sending text messages such as the below to take advantage of unsuspecting members of the public at this time.

    ‘Never click on links that are included in a text or email unless you are 100% sure it’s verified.’

    The second message does not contain a link, but it’s a threatening message claiming that people will be punished for going outside.

    It claims the recipient has been ‘in breach of government guidelines’ and will be charged a penalty fee via their phone bill.

    Text scammers often use believeable approaches, such as claiming to be a phone network or a company that the recipient might frequently use.

    In this case, they’ve been using the coronavirus to target potentially vulnerable people and trick them into giving up personal information.

    Currently there is a lack of regulation and security measures in SMS messages, which means scammers can pretend to be anyone they want.

    If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you can contact Metropolitan Police here.

    Have you received any of these texts?

    Head over to our Facebook page and let us know!