Nine people in Hertfordshire have been conned out of more than £260,000 by scammers sending fake Covid messages.
Police are issuing a further warning about the scam text messages, which claim individuals have been in contact with someone who has the Omicron Covid variant.
The messages ask people to click a link to apply for a test kit and hand over their personal information.
Some of the people who have been taken in by the scam have disclosed bank details as they are asked to pay for postage and packaging.
Others who realised they were being duped, after providing their details, have called their bank and cancelled their cards.
However, they were then contacted by fraudsters claiming to be from the victim’s bank.
The bogus caller claims there has been a fraudulent transaction on the victim’s account and directs them to set a new account up and transfer their money to protect it.
The fraudsters are able to spoof genuine telephone numbers of some banks, making the calls appear legitimate.
Detective Inspector Pete Hankins, from the Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said: “Fraudsters are very quick to adapt their tactics to take advantage of circumstances, like the pandemic. If you receive any unsolicited messages or calls, you should always be sceptical. Avoid clicking links in text and email messages, check out the website directly via a search engine to make sure you are visiting a genuine site.”
NHS Test and Trace contact tracers will never ask for payment or ask for bank account details.
Your bank and the police will never ring and ask you to verify your PIN, withdraw cash or purchase high-value goods. They’ll also never come to your home to collect your card, cash or purchased items. If you get a call like this, end the call.
If you get a call from your bank or the police, make sure you know who the person is before handing over any personal details. You can do this by calling your bank (the number on the back of your card) or the police (101) on a different phone line.
To get a different line, use a phone owned by a family member, friend or neighbour. This is because scammers can keep phone lines open after pretending to hang up. So while you think you’re making a new phone call, the line is still open to the scammer, who pretends to be someone from your bank or the police.
You can report any offences to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online www.actionfraud.police.uk and forward suspicious texts to Action Fraud’s text number 7726, for free.