A common trend today is the use of fraudulent SMS text messages to deceive people into believing they have been exposed to the omicron variant of Covid 19. This fraudulent act has become so rampant in the UK, that it has caught the attention of the Uk’s National Health Service.
In a bid to stop people from falling victims to these acts and losing their valuables, the NHS has been trying to create awareness for its citizens
This is however not the first time these fraudsters have tried to profit from this pandemic through malicious practice, so it is important to keep an eye for all their possible tricks. How do these scammers go about these malicious practices?
They create a phishing text message and the content of this message is to make you believe that you have contracted the Omicron Variant from an unspecified person. This message will also ask you to click a link to order a test kit and even go further to tell you that older PCR tests are not capable of recognizing the omicron variant.
Well, an important part of this link is that it directs you to a page that looks similar to the web page of the NHS. This is a scheme to convince you that the message is really from the NHS to make you panic. They even go further to tell you that if you don’t get tested you would be forced to isolate yourself. Amidst this frenzy, you lose your focus as would anybody who has just been told they might be exposed to this Omicron variant.
This supposed NHS page will ask you to order a test kit and pay just £0.99 for postage. This is a small price to pay in a bid to save one’s life right? But the main focus here isn’t only the money to be paid. These scammers are also after your personal details and with this information, they can further exploit you in the nearest future.
Another pattern is based on the fact these scammers know that people with chronic conditions like diabetes are susceptible to complications when they contract this omicron variant. Hence they create a fraudulent message promoting the use of some OTD that reduces blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
The sole purpose will be to order these drugs, which eventually you won’t get and you lose your money along the way.
Ways to avoid such scams
These scammers use several domains making it hard to track them because when a domain is identified and blocked, they create a new domain. Importantly one needs to be alert to avoid falling victim to these fraudsters. Here are ways to avoid falling victim and prevent further cyber crimes.
- Firstly, keep in mind that the NHS no longer give out free test kits for COVID-19, knowing this will help you spot phishing text messages, emails and websites and save you from being scammed.
- The NHS would not ask for your details on their website, the NHS would not require your details on their website
- Avoid clicking on links or attachments from strange numbers, links and attachments might contain malicious spyware that can invade your phone.
- When you receive a message from an official site, verify the website through google or other means or contact their official handle to be sure.
- Ensure you use two-step verification, you should always use two-step verification for your important online accounts to avoid ease of access from a third party.
- Ensure you seek medical advice from your doctor before seeking any other person. This will save you a whole lot of misinformation and stress
- Verify online pharmacies before making orders from them. This will help to decipher legitimate ones from scammers.
Why you should report scams
At the time of being scammed, there might be a reluctance in reporting this malicious act. It is human to feel weird falling for cheap tricks. However, it is important to keep in mind that you were not the first and probably won’t be the last if you don’t take the necessary actions to stop these fraudsters from winning.
These fraudsters do not intend to stop at you and will continue to the next victim and even if you couldn’t have saved yourself, you probably would be helping a distant relative, friend or total stranger from becoming a victim.
Reporting these malicious crimes is free and there are many ways to report a scam. You can choose which is the easiest for you. Here are some ways
- phone providers have created a system in which scams in the form of malicious text can be easily reported. All you need to do is forward this message to 7726 and an investigation will be done by your phone provider if found to be scam-related this number will be blocked.
- If you have been scammed through a call or you keep receiving malicious phone calls, you can report this to www.actionfraud.police.uk if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. In Scotland, you dial 101 to report to the police
- If you keep receiving phishing emails, then you can forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. This email will be monitored closely and if found malicious can be blocked and awareness raised.
- Adverts online can also be used to trick you into falling for these scams. But take note of these adverts when they pop up in a space already paid for. You can report them to Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
- Many of these scammers use fake websites, so if you are suspicious of a website you can always report this website to the Ncsc for verification. This body has the power to examine and take down bogus websites to prevent them from running scams on others.
Please contact Scam Help to explore chances of recovering your lost funds. Scam Help is a registered funds recovery agency.