Warning issued as reports of scam increase
A new covid-19 text scam about fake crisis grants of £1,500 is circulating in Scotland.
Highland Council has received information about the scam from its trading standards team, and people across the country are being encouraged to contact Scotland’s national consumer advice service, consumeradvice.scot, if they have been affected.
The scam involves a text message which states that crisis grants of £1,500 are available to individuals who need support during the coronavirus pandemic.
The start of the coronavirus lockdown period saw a sharp increase in fraud reports in Scotland.
An increase in the variety of doorstep scams being carried out in communities has also been reported.
Since lockdown began in March, Scottish consumers have reported scammers cold calling households and posing as Red Cross or NHS workers to collect donations for fake COVID-19 charities.
The scam asks the recipient to check eligibility by clicking on a link that contains ‘gov.crisis-grant’, which is not a government site, as part of an attempt to secure personal financial information.
Other scammers have posed as local council staff and offered to buy groceries for self-isolating or shielding individuals, taking their money but failing to return. Rogue traders have also offered cleaning services in order to disinfect driveways, properties and even doorbells of the virus.
Marjorie Gibson, head of operations with consumeradvice.scot, said: “Scammers are deliberately using the coronavirus crisis to target people for financial gain.
“Their sickening acts can have long-term consequences for people, both financially and emotionally.
“The scams can look very convincing, and anyone can fall for them.
“Telltale signs to look out for are unsolicited calls, emails or texts, or being asked for personal or security details.
“Anyone who is concerned can contact the national consumer advice service, consumeraadvice.scot, for free advice – and we can report any scams to Trading Standards for investigation.”
Mark McGinty, trading standards team leader at Highland Council, warned that the scammers are hoping those in real need of financial assistance will click on the link.
“The link clearly isn’t a link to an official government site and by clicking on it the recipient runs the risk of opening up their personal and financial data, which will likely be used for criminal purposes with no thought for the harm it may cause the individual concerned,” he said.
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