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Alert as people in Tayside and Fife hit by yet another coronavirus text scam

Ross Vettraino.
Ross Vettraino.

People across Tayside and Fife are being hit by yet another scam trying to cash in on the coronavirus pandemic.

A text message purporting to offer a tax refund due to lockdown has been described as the latest in a relentless wave of attempts to use Covid-19 to defraud the public.

It comes less than a week after the public was warned about a sick text offering a coronavirus vaccine in return for bank details.

Officials are deeply concerned people may be falling victim to the scammers at a time of increased vulnerability.

Fraudsters have been relentlessly using the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns to mask their attempts to steal the public’s money.”

Katherine Hart.

Fife’s protective services chairman, Councillor Ross Vettraino, said he did not have the words to describe his contempt for those responsible.

“It would seem there are no depths to which the scammers will not stoop to implement their fraudulent acts,” he said.

“I realise it must be so difficult for so many people, who are currently suffering financial hardship, to reject an apparent opportunity to ease their financial difficulties.

“But the message is clear – never divulge personal details, particularly banking details, to anyone.”

A number of people have received the text telling them “we have been instructed by the government (sic) to issue a tax refund off (sic) £230 due to the recent lockdown”.

It then asks the recipient to visit a website which contains a form requesting banking details.

This is supposedly to verify and transfer the tax refund payment.

‘A time of increased vulnerability’

Katherine Hart, lead officer with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said the text is entirely fraudulent and attempts to obtain crucial information to allow criminals to access bank accounts.

“Fraudsters have been relentlessly using the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns to mask their attempts to steal the public’s money,” she said.

“People of all backgrounds are targeted by scammers, even NHS workers, and the scams come through telephone calls, texts, emails and on the doorstep.

“This is a time of increased vulnerability for everyone, and I am deeply concerned that the public is more likely to become victims of these scams.

“While this instance of the fraud contained misspellings that provide red flags to the recipient, many others do not.”

Katherine, who lives in north east Fife, said the websites linked to may appear almost indistinguishable from the genuine article, making the fraud convincing.

She warned: “HMRC will never ask you to provide your banking details, and the public should ignore these messages.

“It is also vital that the public reports these scams to Action Fraud or in Scotland, Police Scotland.

“By reporting instances of fraud, the public assists us by providing intelligence allowing us to map the importance of combatting these scams,” said Katherine.

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