Shoppers have been warned to be on their guard over new supermarket scams exploiting the coronavirus crisis.
Customers of two large grocery chains have been targeted by genuine-looking emails and WhatsApp messages referencing Covid-19 and offering free vouchers, KentLive reports.
The fakes have been spotted for Tesco and Morrisons – but shoppers of other stores are also advised to be vigilant.
“Criminals continue to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to defraud innocent members of the public,” Action Fraud said.
A total of £2,360,727 has now been reported lost by more than 1,000 victims of coronavirus-related scams, reports MirrorOnline.
The fake offer reads: “Morrison’s is giving away free groceries worth £250 to support the nation during Corona pandemic. Hurry up! Collect your FREE voucher.”
A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police pointed out discrepancies in the email.
The force said: “It’s said to appear genuine and the link to the website provided was: http://morrisons.uk-groceries.store/#
“As you can see, the URL starts with just ‘HTTP’ which isn’t secure, always check you have HTTPS within your browser for the most secure way of browsing (this ‘S’ stands for secure).
“Always check the spelling is correct and look out for numbers used instead of letters and added symbols like the ‘#’ as this is a method used on fake sites to trick you.”
The link works as expected and, after clicking the user is asked to answer three initial questions before being directed to another web page asking to circulate this offer among friends using WhatsApp.
When going to share this message it leads to another page informing the user they can win an iPhone 11.
There is then a request to pay £1 for handling charges and request your bank/credit card details to process the payment.
Cyber Crime Prevent and Protect Officer, Kirsty Jackson, said: “Criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people. They will continue to exploit every angle of this national crisis and we want people to be prepared.
“We will be sharing scam advice where possible to try and get one step ahead of these criminals and we want to help the public protect themselves from these scams where possible.
“However, we will need the help of the public to share this as much as possible, including conversations with those less likely to see our alerts.
“We are not trying to scare people at a time when they are already anxious. We simply want people to be aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect themselves from handing over their money, or personal details, to criminals.”
Meanwhile, emails offering free Tesco vouchers are also a scam, Action Fraud has advised.
The scam warning was posted on social media by the UK’s National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre.
The fake email reads: “Dear Customer,
“TESCO is giving you a chance to shop for free this COVID-19 season at any of our outlets or online by giving out free vouchers.
“This offer is for All users and it will be on until the end of April 2020.
“To Qualify follow the link below and input all the details required.
“After validation, if selected your voucher will be sent via text message or posted to your Mailbox.
“Thanks for taking part, The Tesc0 team.”
Action Fraud advised anyone tempted not to click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails and to never respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial information.
“The link in the email leads to a genuine-looking phishing website that is designed to steal login credentials as well as personal and financial information,” it said.
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