There was a massive 400 per cent increase in March in reports of scams as unscrupulous criminals take advantage of the current COVID 19 virus. 

Police and Action Fraud are expecting this to rise as time goes on with  more people staying home and for longer periods of time with con artists using the pandemic to tap in to people’s health and financial fears.

Croydon police have also had reports that criminals have been targeting  vulnerable and elderly people locally by posing as door to door Coronarvirus testers in order to gain access to people’s homes 

Nobody, either the NHS or police, are conducting such tests and if you get a caller at your door the advice is dial 999.

Neighbourhood Watch in Croydon are warning residents to be aware of the following scams currently being circulated with Phishing and scam emails one of the most common frauds.

Here are an example of three:

• Fraudsters purporting to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account
• Scammers providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates.
• Tricksters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.

There have also been reports of text messages that have been made to appear to come from the government. The government have only sent one text so far advising everyone to stay home. The other texts are scams  so do not click on any links.  

Other general scams to be mindful of are  online shopping fraud.

More people may fall victim to online shopping fraud as they self-isolate due to COVID 19. You are a victim of online shopping fraud if you buy goods from an online seller that never arrive. The majority relate to the online sale of protective items such as facemasks, and other items in short supply due to the outbreak, that don’t exist.

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Loan scams: People may be worrying about their finances during the outbreak. Lender loan fraudsters will use the opportunity to:

– approve your application for a fast loan regardless of your credit history

–  ask you to pay an upfront fee

–  take your payment and never provide the loan

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Mandate Fraud:As more people work from home due to COVID 19, criminals  may try to get you to change a direct debit, standing order or bank transfer mandate, to divert funds to their bank account, by purporting to be an organisation you make regular payments to.

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Computer Software Service Fraud: As more people work from home due to the pandemic, swindlers may capitalise on slow networks and IT problems, to commit computer software service fraud. Be wary of cold calls or unsolicited emails offering you help with your device or to fix a problem

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Investment Fraud: Scam artists  could try to take advantage of the financial uncertainty surrounding COVID 19 by offering people sham investment opportunities. If you get a cold call or unsolicited email offering you a deal that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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