The BBC reports that scams hit their peak in April 2020 and January 2021, coinciding with national lockdowns. With everyone at home, shopping online and ordering deliveries, criminals have seized upon this period of vulnerability to make a fraudulent fortune.
A common scam comes in the form of phone calls and online banking. Scammers will ring victims posing as their banks and advise them to transfer money into another account. To make the request credible, they will often have information on hand such as sort codes, account numbers and other personal details.
A recent and prolific scam, known as the ‘Royal Mail Parcel scam’, involves a text message asking people to follow a link to pay £1.99 for delivery of a parcel. Through a mock website, fraudsters will then take financial and personal details to steal money, commit identity theft or target victims with further scams. Royal Mail have confirmed that they would never send such a text, and have given further advice on how to avoid such fraud.
It can be unnervingly easy to give up personal information in the heat of the moment if you believe it’s being requested through official channels. Depending on the type of scam and your bank’s specific fraud policy, you may or may not get your money back, and many victims have been left financially destitute on top of the financial pressures of the pandemic.
A government hotline dedicated to reporting Covid fraudsters was launched in October 2020, but many are calling for more decisive measures to crack down on the upsurge of scamming.
If you have been a target of fraud or cyber crime you can report it to Action Fraud here.