Scams and How to Spot Them

Protect Your Information & Your Money


As a result of the significant rise in COVID-19 related scams, over the next few months, the Scottish Government Cyber Resilience Unit will share important information on a weekly basis. Advice and information is changing daily as we navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, so please ensure you only take information from trusted sources.

National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
NCSC have launched the new Cyber Aware campaign promoting behaviours to mitigate cyber threat. The cross-governmental ‘Cyber Aware’ campaign, offers actionable advice for people to protect passwords, accounts and devices, new guidance for individuals and organisations using online video conferencing and how to report dubious emails.

Your bank (or any other official source) should never ask you to supply personal information from an email. If you have any doubts about a message , call them directly. Don’t use the numbers/emails in the email, but visit the official website instead.

Training Of The Week
Scottish Businesses Care: COVID-19 and counterfeit goods. In this webinar, the panel discuss the rise of counterfeit goods during the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted by Rachel Jones of SnapDragon Monitoring.

New Scottish Government Guidance For Home Learning
This new guidance is aimed at pupils, parents and teachers, which makes reference to digital learning, with a focus on safety, security, privacy and safeguarding. This complements earlier guidance published by the General Teaching Council Scotland relating to online engagement by education professionals.

Trading Standards Scam Share
Other scams to be aware of are available in this weeks’ Trading Standards Scotland Scam Share newsletter. You can sign up for their newsletter here.

Trending Topics
WHICH, a well-known provider of product and services reviews are running a very informative page on COVID19 scams and how to spot and prevent them. Their page contains some excellent information and advice on the current scams. WHICH also cover wider COVID-19 related concerns.

Criminals preying on our financial worries as they spoof government websites to take our money. Emails or texts supposedly from HMRC or our local council offering a tax refund or financial help (for example, Coronavirus Job retention scheme) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has an up-to-date list of common HMRC scams on their website and all similar scams should be reported to them directly. Even if you get the same or similar phishing email or text message often, email it to and then delete it. HMRC has also warned that returning NHS workers are being targeted by promoters of tax avoidance.

The BBC have reported that scammers are sending 18 million hoax emails about COVID-19 to Gmail users every day, according to Google. The tech giant says the pandemic has led to an explosion of phishing attacks in which criminals try to trick users into revealing personal data.
Out of approximately 100 million phishing emails a day and over the past week, almost a fifth were scam emails related to coronavirus. This means that COVID-19 may now be the biggest phishing topic ever.

Tesco Vouchers
There have been reports about fake emails that appear to be from Tesco. The email states that the supermarket is offering free vouchers. The link in the email leads to a phishing website that looks like the genuine website that is designed to steal login credentials as well as personal and financial information. Read more on the legitimate Tesco website here.

Netflix Scam
As lockdown continues, usage for online streaming services has skyrocketed. Scammers have caught onto this, and so there has been an influx of Netflix related phishing emails circulating. The cybersecurity firm BrandShield have noted that since January 2020, 639 fake domains containing the word “Netflix” have been registered. These are being used to steal users credentials, money, or even to
spread malware onto users devices. Users should be cautious and only enter credentials into the legitimate Netflix website.

Sextortion Scam
Police Scotland is asking people to be aware of an email scam currently circulating where fraudsters are threatening to publish online footage of victims. Sixteen reports were made to Police Scotland overnight on Thursday 9 April 2020, with the latest number rising to 96 reports by Tuesday 14 April 2020. The reports have been from people across every police division in Scotland. The scam involves emails being sent to people with the suspect claiming to have video footage of the recipient visiting an adult website. The suspect is then demanding payment in bitcoin, threatening that failure to do so will result in the video being published. This is known as sextortion, an example of a phishing attack.
NCSC advice:
> Don’t communicate with the criminal
> Don’t pay the ransom
> Check if your account has been compromised –
> Change any passwords mentioned
> Report any losses to your local police force

> National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
> Police Scotland
> Trading Standards Scotland
> Europol
> Coronavirus in Scotland
> Health advice NHS Inform

To report a crime call Police Scotland on 101 or in an emergency 999.

Tips for spotting telltale signs of phishing (fake emails)
Spotting a phishing email is becoming increasingly difficult, and many scams will even trick computer experts. However, there are some common signs to look out for:
> Authority – Is the sender claiming to be from someone official (like your bank, doctor, a solicitor, government department)? Criminals often pretend to be important people or organisations to trick you into doing what they want.
> Urgency – Are you told you have a limited time to respond (like in 24 hours or immediately)? Criminals often threaten you with fines or other negative consequences.
> Emotion – Does the message make you panic, fearful, hopeful or curious? Criminals often use threatening language, make false claims of support, or tease you into wanting to find out more.
> Scarcity – Is the message offering something in short supply (like concert tickets, money or a cure for medical conditions)? Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly.
> Current events – Are you expecting to see a message like this? Criminals often exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to make their scam seem more relevant to you.


This information is from the Scottish Government Cyber Resilience Notice COVID-19 23/04/2020 which can be downloaded here