As fear over the new Omicron Covid-19 variant continues to sweep across the planet, scammers are trying to use this mutated virus to cash in. UK security experts are warning that they’ve witnessed an explosion in fake NHS emails being sent out to accounts claiming to offer free PCR tests which then allow UK residents to avoid the current government restrictions.
The message states that the new PCR tests will “identify the Omicron variant” and “allow you to travel safely and freely without having to self-isolate.” Recipients of the message are then urged to click on a link to book their Omicron PCR test without delay.
Of course, there is no test and those that are duped will then be sent to a web page where they are asked to fill in personal details including name, address and bank numbers – all a hacker needs to raid and steal money from those who are tricked.
This new scam, which has been described as “particularly sinister”, was exposed by the team at Individual Protection Solutions (IPS) after a report from one of its members.
Speaking to The Sun, IPS Founder Charlie Shakeshaft, said: “Scammers are using the social uncertainty surrounding Omicron to prey on vulnerable people.
“They’re targeting people who are in desperate need to book a test before the crowds in a bid to get them to act quickly.
“Those who are the most vulnerable to the strain are the most desperate, and so are most likely to fall for the scam, which makes it particularly sinister.”
With so much concern over this new strain of Covid-19, it’s easy to see how some people could be tricked by this latest scam so it’s vital to remember a few things before clicking on any links. As IPS confirms, there are currently no free tests that offer Omicron diagnosis and the NHS would never ask for any bank details.
If the email had come from the NHS it would also have the address @nhs.uk which these scams clearly won’t be able to include as they are not coming from real accounts. Finally, the out of the blue message doesn’t include a name with it just saying Dear Sir/Madam – again, the NHS will never contact any UK residents in this manner.
With Omicron gripping the UK, it’s likely that more scams like this will be pushed out to Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook accounts in the coming weeks so keep your eyes peeled.
If an email doesn’t feel right don’t be tempted to click on any links or hand over any personal details.
IPS says anyone receiving a scam should forward this type of email to [email protected]