Beware the lockdown scammers - Huw Jones, Proposito
Lockdown is leading to a growth in scammers trying to extract money from people, warn financial planners Proposito.
The Cirencester company said with more people working from home and online due to the coronavirus, cyber criminals are taking the opportunity to strike.
Managing director Huw Jones said: "We are aware the current crisis is leading scammers to try to, for example, persuade people to withdraw funds from their investments.
"Fake emails are being sent purporting to be from organisations like HMRC or the Financial Conduct Authority which can seem very convincing."
He continued: "The fraudsters also set up clone websites which look genuine and, again, can mislead people and encourage them to part with their money.
"It's appalling that criminals will use a serious situation such as the pandemic to their advantage."
According to research by multi-national cybersecurity and defence company Trend Micro, the UK is the most heavily targeted nation for COVID-19 related email spam.
The Proposito team is issuing advice to clients on how to avoid being caught out.
This includes being cautious about opening emails or clicking on links without total certainty they are genuine.
"We are aware of many scams via text and phone call, where fraudsters will again claim to be from HMRC or a bank," said Mr Jones.
"They make promises of a payment related to the economic measures put in place to ease the impact on businesses during pandemic, then ask for bank log-in details so they can transfer the money.
"Legitimate organisations would never do this."
He said another scam was a series of COVID-19 quizzes, popping up on social media, claiming to test people's knowledge about coronavirus but also asking questions about personal details, such as email addresses, pets' names and date of birth.
All this information harvesting is giving criminals the tools they need to hack into or clone accounts.
At Proposito, clients' data is all safely stored in the cloud and they use a secure encrypted messaging system to exchange documents rather than sending emails with attachments.
The firm has an app for smartphone and tablet they can use for secure messaging.
Mr Jones said: "Our advice is to be extra vigilant and if an offer seems too good to be true, it certainly is."
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