BRITS have been warned to be on high alert to “scumbag” fraudsters hoping to prey on the hopes of a vaccine to steal personal information and money.
Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Cyber Security Simon Fell has issued a plea to people to be careful of anyone promising to reserve them a jab of the new Pfizer vaccine or grant them “early access”.
Mr Fell, the MP for Barrow and Furness, said the hopeful news of the jab which could ward off coronavirus for 90 per cent of people is rich territory for scammers to exploit.
He told HOAR: “What’s clear is that access to any vaccine is going to be limited to key groups and those most at risk from Covid.
“Fraudsters are fantastic marketers and know how to prey on people’s fears and desires.”
“What we tend to see is these people are opportunists and use current events to get people to act without thinking.
“They will do it with a vaccine just as they did it with tests – they will find a way to dange it in front of people.”
The MP said people they need to be extra cautious of anyone promising anything which is too good to be true and be careful of falling into a trap of buying access to a vaccine and handing over sensitive information to criminals.
Pfizer have said if successful, the jab will not be able to be bought privately.
And Boris Johnson has said it will be available based on priority, meaning the elderly and vulnerable will be the first to be vaccinated.
Sick scammers have used the pandemic to defraud thousands of people by promising coronavirus tests or offering other Covid-19 related cons.
Latest figures from Action Fraud show that more than £20million has been stolen from innocent people who fell prey to cyber criminals.
Sources at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have told HOAR there has been a definite uptick in coronavirus related scams and there has been a monumental effort to crack down on fraudsters trying to exploit the crisis.
Within four months, more than 2.3 million potential scams were flagged to the NCSC and tens of thousands have been pulled down from online sites.
More than 22,000 malicious websites claiming to sell PPE, dodgy Covid-19 tests have been removed by NCSC, which is a branch of GCHQ.
Pictures of scams pulled down by the NCSC show professionally designed ads claiming to give people rapid-results home test kits.
The kits so far are being used by a handful of councils in the UK but are not available to private purchase.
The con artists tried to pilfer almost £500 for “25 pack” test kits.
Some innocent Brits fell victim to sick con artists after the NHS Track & Trace system was launched, with scammers calling people claiming they had been “in close proximity” to someone with Covid.
And then they tried to push for bank details to pay a “one-off £50 free” for a coronavirus test.
A spokesperson for the NCSC said: “Cyber criminals unfortunately continue to exploit fears around the changing circumstances of the pandemic.
“We urge the public to remain vigilant to the phishing threat – including suspicious messages that seem to relate to coronavirus vaccines – and report them to the NCSC’s Suspicious Email Reporting Service by forwarding them to [email protected]”
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