West Mercia Police warning as nearly £1 million taken in coronavirus scams

By Matthew Growcott | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

Nearly £1 million has been stolen in coronavirus related scams since the start of February, it has been revealed.

West Mercia Police warned people to know how to protect themselves as Action Fraud revealed it had received 105 reports of virus-related scams across the country.

Total losses through the scams has now reached £970,000 nationally.

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The first report relating to coronavirus, or COVID-19, was received on February 9. There were 20 more reports that month. Since then, there have been 46 reports between the March 1 and March 13, and 38 reports in the four days that followed.

The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived.

Action Fraud has also received over 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information, email logins and passwords, and banking details.


Superintendent Sanjay Andersen, Head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, said: "Fraudsters will use any opportunity they can to take money from innocent people. This includes exploiting tragedies and global emergencies.

“The majority of scams we are seeing relate to the online sale of protective items, and items that are in short supply across the country, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re advising people not to panic and to think about the purchase they are making. When you’re online shopping it’s important to do your research and look at reviews of the site you are buying from.”

People are warned to watch out for scam messages, carry out research before they buy anything from an unknown company online and use a credit card if possible, rather than a debit card. Most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

Those who believe they have been contacted by scammers can call police on 101 or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Matthew Growcott

By Matthew Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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