How to avoid being caught by a coronavirus scam

20 April 2020, 15:04 | Updated: 20 April 2020, 15:10

By Fiona Jones

The Detective Chief Inspector who leads the specialist fraud unit cracking down on criminals during the pandemic told LBC how you can avoid being caught by a coronavirus scam.

A specialist police unit funded by the banking industry have executed a number of warrants across the country to crack down on criminals sending scam text messages and emails seeking to exploit the virus outbreak.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit is made up of officers from the Met and City of London police and will target the gangs responsible for fraud.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson who leads the unit told Nick that criminals are "experts at impersonating people" and will spend "hours researching you hoping you will let your guard down for a moment."

You need to be aware of these text messages and emails that are being sent out and more importantly if you are sent one do not click on any links, he said.

"Currently what we're seeing is these criminals taking the opportunity of this national crisis to send out messages from HMRC, from the government saying you can apply for a Covid-19 refund, or issue a payment in their battle against Covid-19."

The government only sent out one text message regarding the pandemic, reiterated DCI Robinson.

"If you get a text message, if you get an email, take your time with it. We always like to refer to the Take 5 Fraud campaign. Don't be rushed, stay in control, don't assume that an email or a request from a caller is genuine," he said, advising people to refer to the official websites before responding to requests.

He added that banks or HMRC will not ask you to click on a link or give personal details over an email or text message.

The unit have apprehended three scammers this week alone: "We'll continue to arrest and execute warrants to bring them to justice to protect the public."

Tech giant Google have found scammers are sending Gmail users 18 million hoax emails about coronavirus each day which they are attempting to block.