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Police warn public about scam coronavirus text messages


By Kyle Ritchie

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Police have warned people in the north-east to be vigilant as scam text messages purporting to offer coronavirus vaccines, or asking for payment for vaccinations are circulating.

The text suggests the recipient can get the injection now and asks for their personal and financial information.

Police are urging the public to be alert to this and not provide any of their details.

Anyone who thinks they may have done so can contact Police Scotland by calling 101.

Scam coronavirus text messages are being sent to people's mobile phones.
Scam coronavirus text messages are being sent to people's mobile phones.

Chief Inspector Anton Stephenson, of Police Scotland's safer communities division, said: "We are aware of a scam circulating involving a text message suggesting people are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

"Always be aware that an unsolicited telephone call, email or text message may not be from the person or organisation which it appears to be from.

"Never click on a link in a message you're not expecting, and remember the NHS will never ask you for money relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We will pursue anyone who sets out to cause harm and misery to our communities, and our officers work closely with partners to make Scotland a hostile environment for scammers.

"If you are concerned you have provided personal or financial information via a link in a message of this sort, contact Police Scotland via 101.

"Our Take Five campaign, which launched recently, raises awareness of fraud, and highlights ways people can protect themselves and remain vigilant to this kind of crime."

The Take Five to Prevent Fraud campaign features a range of tips for members of the public about how to protect themselves from fraudsters, and avoid falling victim to scam attempts.

The campaign outlines that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.

They spend hours researching people for their scams, hoping they will let their guard down for just a moment.

This has intensified during the coronavirus pandemic with criminals using it as an opportunity to trick people into parting with their money or information.

As well as the vaccine scam, people are urged to “take advantage of the financial downturn”, using emails and social media platforms to advertise fake investment opportunities in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.

Others include criminals offering their assistance with Universal Credit applications, while taking some of the payment as a fee for their “services”.

Criminals will use official branding and language used by trusted organisations and government departments to convince people their emails, messages and calls are genuine.

These may include offering a person or business a government grant or reduction in their council tax with links contained leading to fake websites designed to obtain personal and financial information.

The campaign urges people to:

Stop: Take a moment to stop and think before parting with money or information.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic people.

Protect: People should contact their bank immediately if they think they have fallen for a scam and report it to Police Scotland.

For more advice and information visit www.scotland.police.uk/takefive



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