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HMRC investigating 10,000+ coronavirus phishing scams

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Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is analyzing more than 10,000 fraudulent emails, SMS messages, social media posts and phone scams that play on the Covid-19 pandemic, a new report from the Lanop Accountancy Group states.

Based on a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the report claims the figures grew dramatically as the pandemic progressed.

March saw 133 phishing scams reported, while 2,105 were recorded in April – a rise of 1482 percent in just a month. More than 5,000 attacks were registered in May and a further 2,500 in June.

But it’s not just phishing messages (opens in new tab) criminals used to defraud victims – they also set up fraudulent websites. A total of 106 coronavirus-related websites have been requested for removal by HMRC since March.

For Chris Ross, SVP International at Barracuda Networks, it’s no wonder criminals used HMRC as a hook, with the range of financial support packages on offer.

“These scams are often cleverly designed with official branding are incredibly realistic, coaxing unsuspecting victims to hand over confidential information such as bank account details, usernames and passwords,” he said.

“With many people still working remotely for the foreseeable future, it’s vital that businesses ensure each and every member of staff is properly trained to spot these kinds of scams (opens in new tab)and the necessary cyber security systems are in place in place to identify and block suspected malicious communications, before it reaches the inbox.”

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.