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COVID-19 fraud watch

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The Fraud Advisory Panel have set up a COVID-19 fraud watch group which is a cross-sector and cross-industry coalition of trusted partners (including the Cabinet Office and City of London Police) who meet weekly to share information on emerging fraud threats and trends affecting business. It aims to act as a conduit to warn the public, private and third sectors about COVID-19 fraud risks and the preventative actions that can be taken.

Latest update

Issued: Thursday 28 May

CURRENT COVID-19 FRAUD RISKS

  • Impersonation of Government departments (esp. use of NHS IDs and medical supply services)
  • Fraudulent applications (esp. bounce back loans, universal credit and grants)
  • HMRC phishing emails (esp. tax refunds, online applications for grants and government gateways)
  • Investment fraud
  • Online shopping and auction fraud
  • Payment diversion fraud using COVID-19 as a reason for changing bank details (ie. corporate restructuring).

ANTICIPATED AND/OR EMERGING ISSUES

  • The introduction of the NHS track and trace app could give rise to fraud, such as fake emails and text messages requesting people to provide personal information or individuals misusing it to cause business disruption.
  • Possible increase in property fraud.
  • There are also concerns about self-employed persons registered with HMRC who might have been understating their earnings and who now find themselves financially stretched because they are unable to reclaim the full amount.
  • The US Secret Service issued a warning last week about a massive operation to file fraudulent unemployment claims in the US using stolen personal information. This has been attributed to Nigerian criminals.

SOME SIMPLE PREVENTATIVE TIPS …

  • An update on pensions has been released from the FCA and other regulators which includes a section on how to access advice and prevention tips. Available here.
  • Action Fraud issue prevention advice and phishing email examples on social media. You can follow them @ActionFraudUK
  • HM Land Registry offer a free property alert service if you think your property may be at risk of fraud. Available here.

Previous updates

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