With predictable certainty cyber criminals have taken advantage of the Covid-19 vaccinations to confuse and defraud the unwary. If you know what to look for these scams are as transparent as a pane of glass, if you don’t know the signs then read on.

Fraudsters are trying to exploit the Covid-19 vaccination programme by offering people the chance to jump ahead in the vaccination queue. Potential victims are apparently being contacted by text message with and recorded voice message on phones.
  • A text recipient is urged to click a link in the message for an early vaccination.
  • The voice message requests to press 1 to get ahead of those on the vaccination waiting list
In both cases recipients are asked to provide personal information, including financial details, to book their vaccination. It’s a ham fisted attempt to gain banking details and ID information to carry out fraud.

Many people will be familiar with these scams given that while they take different forms, such as an urgent demand to make tax payments, they all have the same endgame, which is to steal personal information.
  • NHS’s Covid vaccines are free and there is nothing anyone can do to get ahead in the queue, with the most vulnerable at the top of the list.
As the vaccination programme gathers pace we can expect to see more of these types of scams, so it pays to be wary.

Undelivered parcels fraud

A more cunning scam however is fraudsters sending out texts and emails claiming to be from parcel courier service DPD or the Royal Mail. The message claims that the organisation was unable to deliver an item.

Given the Christmas rush, lorries bearing goods stacked up on the M20, Tier 4 lockdowns and images in the press of parcels piled up in sorting offices, these messages on the surface appear absolutely plausible.
  • However, the messages include a link to a website where the recipient is asked provide payment card details in order to pay for extra postage costs.  If they don’t enter these details they are told the item can’t be delivered and it will be returned to the sender.
The scam then goes deeper. A few days later the victim receives a call saying that their bank account has been compromised and they need to transfer their money to a secure account. Of course this account is controlled by the scammers. Apparently in the first week of December over £100,000 was lost to the DPD scam.

DPD told the Guardian that it would never ask people to send money for parcels to be redirected or redelivered, adding: “Nor would we ask consumers to give us their bank details.”

Identifying scams

More of these types of scams will surface over the holiday season but a few simple tips can help you avoid falling victim:
  • Neither DPD, Royal Mail nor any other established delivery company would ask for banking details. Watch out for poor spelling and grammar in these types of messages, it’s a sign that it’s a scam.
  • If you get a call claiming to be from a bank’s fraud team asking to put your money in another account, or hand over your passcode/password hang up the phone and don’t do anything.
  • If you receive a call from a so-called ‘reputable’ organisation asking you to download some software onto your computer such as Team Viewer don’t do it. Simply hang up no matter what the caller claims, even if they say your computer is infected with malware. It’s a trick so fraudsters can gain remote control of your computer.
  • Always use good antivirus software to help detect phishing emails and keep your computer free of malware