About 34.5 Million Pound Stolen in Pandemic scams, Say Reports

The UK police has recorded more than 6,000 cases of Covid-related fraud and cyber-crime during the pandemic as per reports.

The Action Fraud team stated that 34.5 million pounds have been stolen since 1 March 2020.

These 34.5 million pounds cover all the fraud activity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland.

In another related development, the National Cyber Security Centre informed that it is tackling about 30 significant attacks every month that are against the country’s pandemic response infrastructure.

This involves attempts to breach the NHS, vaccine producers and vaccine supply chains, among other organizations.

The National Cyber Security Centre operations director Paul Chichester said, “Unfortunately there have been a number of successful ransomware incidents against businesses – roughly around 10.”

City of London Police have disclosed many other figures, which co-ordinate the efforts to combat fraud. These figures include:

  • more than 150 related arrests were made since the pandemic began
  • more than 2,000 websites, phone numbers and email addresses linked to the crimes were taken down
  • there was a total of 416,000 reports of fraud and cyber-crime

The clamping down activity peaked between April and May 2020, and January 2021 – both times when lockdowns were in force.

The National Crime Agency assesses that just one in five fraud cases are typically reported to the police.

And the volunteer-run Cyber Helpline, only a quarter of those who had contacted the fraud, after a cyber-attack said they had also reported the incident to the police.

Many of the scams and frauds involved conning people out of their money and financial details by focusing on internet shopping is called Bank loan scam.

Such fraud was 42 percent higher over the pandemic than the previous year. Criminals took advantage as many physical stores had been closed.

A user like thousands of other users received an SMS message asking her to go online and rearrange a parcel delivery. She filled in details, and later suspected something was wrong. She alerted the bank and cancelled her bank card.

She narrated her story saying, “I thought there was nothing to worry now. I felt everything is fine and the case is closed.” But the criminals used the details they had already obtained permission to authorize her bank to credit her account with a 9,000 pounds loan.

After a short while later they called her, pretending to be her bank. Not realizing the scam, she told them she had not taken out a loan.

She further added, “The fraudsters gave me a code and bank account number I needed to pay back the loan, and told me that if I paid 9,000 pounds there would be no charges. But I was still suspicious, so I decided to Google the code, and it was completely a different bank.”

The she called her bank directly and realized that the scammers were back. She closed her account, and changed her mobile number, and email id. She did not lose any money but she still does not feel safe.

Moreover, charities were also common targets of email attack by fraudsters. One in three charities suffered a cyber-attack during the first 10 months of the pandemic, according to Ecclesiastical Insurance study.

Hackers got inside the network of Charity Digital for seven days without even being detected. They compromised email accounts of users and sent false invoices to the clients.

Charity Digital’s chief executive, Jonathan Chevallie, said the breach went unnoticed because all the staff had been working from home. The organization spent more than 10,000 pounds investigating the attack and has also produced an online webinar to help others avoid any similar fraud. It is not wrong to say one victim actually specializes in offering cyber-security advice to others.

Another popular type of cyber-fraud involved is romance scams, in which people are looking for relationships via matrimonial site on the internet, are fooled into sending money to prospective partners, who make victims a prey making use of their emotions. These types of crimes were 20 percent more common in 2020 than the one before.

Fraudsters sometimes use Sim farms to send texts. The Sim farm holds eight cards at a time to quickly send multiple messages. Key workers had also been specifically targeted. A man was arrested over suspicion of using social media to advertise bogus car insurance policies to the NHS workers.

The pandemic seems to have coincided with a fall in one type of cyber-crime. Reported cases of computer software service fraud, where criminals offer fake tech support to victims and convince them into sharing their bank card details and other credentials – dropped by about 15.5 percent.



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