Coronavirus scams warning

Phishing scam

Trading Standards Scotland is offering advice after a huge amount of online scams were reported 

25th March 2020 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Charities have advised to be on the lookout for coronavirus scams.

Since the pandemic started across the globe, online scammers have been taking advantage of the panic caused by the outbreak.

A series of scams have been reported which prey on those feeling vulnerable as a result of coronavirus, with a focus on miracle cures, fake products and email scams.

Trading Standards Scotland has launched new e-bulletin which will be listing some of the most recent scams reported by consumers across Scotland.

A spokesman said: “Phone, email and online scams are constantly evolving and we want to make sure that consumers are aware of as many of them as possible.

“You should never feel embarrassed about being a victim of a scam - they can affect anyone, no matter what age they are or how savvy they are. If you experience any sort of scam, report it. By sharing your experiences and knowledge, you can prevent scammers from targeting others in your community.”

You can sign up to the Scam Share e-bulletin online. 

And an online tool has been launched to pick up fake testing kits, illicit homemade sanitiser and ‘miracle’ coronavirus cures on sale on eBay.

The free checker, designed by Scottish start-up Vistalworks, has been embedded on the websites of Trading Standards Scotland and Scotland’s national consumer advice service, consumeradvice.scot. It has also been made available as a Chrome browser plugin for online shoppers.

The measure has been introduced to combat a significant rise in the number of illicit sellers trying to take advantage of worried consumers.

Vistalworks has already made hundreds of coronavirus specific updates to its technology and intelligence software, using information from its own analysts and Trading Standards Scotland, and will continue to update the tool on a daily basis.

Users enter the eBay URL in the checker, or hover over any eBay UK listing if using the browser plugin, and a warning will be triggered if required.

The Glasgow-based firm is creating innovative new consumer protection software to help keep online shoppers safe, with a concept that was developed in conjunction with Police Scotland, HMRC and Trading Standards Scotland.

Vicky Brock, chief executive and co-founder of Vistalworks, said: “With consumers' anxiety about the seriousness of coronavirus growing, and mainstream retailers’ supply chains taking unprecedented stress, we know there will be a significant rise in the number of illicit sellers trying to take advantage of worried consumers.

“We've already seen this in the online marketplace listings we monitor.

“To tackle these emerging threats, we’ve updated our eBay checker to pick up fake testing kits, illicit homemade sanitiser, and a whole array of ‘miracle’ cures, including specific items which our analysts and Trading Standards Scotland have become aware of in the last weeks.

“We want to support online shoppers as best we can at this very unsettling time.”

You can download the software here.