Coronavirus: Countering fraud in a global pandemic

Fraud attacks have surged over recent weeks, with criminals looking to exploit human vulnerability and fear amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

At a time of uncertainty, it is essential for counter fraud sectors to join forces and help encourage fraud awareness throughout businesses and the general public. According to reports received by Action Fraud, losses among those targeted by fraud scams currently total £1.6 million, with as many as 50 scams being reported daily.

In a rare public announcement, intelligence agency GCHQ have also warned the public about Coronavirus-themed phishing emails. Globally, trusted organisations including the World Health Organisation and NHS England have been impersonated by malicious actors.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards (NTS), said: “I urge everyone to be on their guard for possible COVID-19 scams and to look out for vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours who may become a target for fraudsters.”

The latest fraud scams include, HMRC tax rebates, donation requests to help support the NHS, Government texts notifying people they have been fined for leaving their homes more than once during lockdown and Coronavirus awareness messages targeting healthcare professionals.

The UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau also reported that the British public have been defrauded out of more than £800,000 by online criminals offering fake offers on surgical face masks.

An undisclosed number of the fraud reports have been passed onto police forces.

A spokesperson at Intelligencia Training said: “The surge in fraud presents a significant financial threat in an uncertain economic climate. It is clear we can expect to see these types of attacks increase over the coming weeks and we all need to take extra vigilance.”

“Effective investigation is key for counter fraud sectors to protect the public and businesses from those using the global emergency as an exploitative opportunity. As an organisation dedicated to raising standards in counter fraud investigation, we aim to play our part through the continued delivery of industry developed training programmes.”

Intelligencia Training began delivering the new Counter Fraud Investigator Apprenticeship Standard earlier this year, adding to its to its portfolio of intelligence and risk apprenticeships.

Helping to ensure parity across counter fraud sectors, Cabinet Office, HMRC, NHS Counter Fraud Authority and several local authorities are among the industry expert employers who developed the innovative programme.

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