Care workers and elderly people are being targeted with fraudulent messages, informing them that the new COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence that people are being sent a text message claiming to be from the NHS which informs the recipient that, “we have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine”.
The message ends with a link to a bogus website mocked up to look like a legitimate NHS platform. The site asks for bank details, supposedly for verification, as well as personal details, including name and address.
The fake NHS message is preying on those elderly or vulnerable people who are fully expecting to receive legitimate information about their vaccine, and Donald Macaskill, the CEO of Scottish Care, recently tweeted that care workers are also being targeted.
This is the latest in a series of scams themed around the pandemic in circulation since last March. With the UK vaccine rollout underway, scammers have modified their scam to consider this new development.
The phoney messages were first reported at the end of December by people living on the Western Isles of Scotland. The NHS on the Isles has since issued a warning to the public that “Health Boards will never ask for any details about your bank account.”
But the CTSI warned that this scam is “by no means limited to the region”, and people throughout the UK may receive similar messages.
Katherine Hart, Lead Officer at CTSI, said: “I have been tracking and warning the public about COVID-19-related scams since the beginning of the pandemic, and at every stage of response, unscrupulous individuals have modified their campaigns to defraud the public.
“The vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others. The NHS will never ask you for banking details, passwords, or PIN numbers and these should serve as instant red flags.
“Do not provide any information to the scammers, but please also report suspicious messages to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, Police Scotland, as this provides intelligence and assists authorities in combating scams.”