Harrogate MP's message for fraudsters exploiting coronavirus fears

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones.
Harrogate and Knaresborough's MP is calling for tough sentences for fraudsters exploiting fears of coronavirus and causing misery among the elderly and people with health problems.

The plea from Andrew Jones MP follows a report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) highlighting how the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus is being used to facilitate various types of fraud and cyber crime.

In just the last few weeks, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has identified 21 reports of fraud where Coronavirus was mentioned, with victim losses totalling more than £800,000.

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Mr Jones said the cynicism of the fraudsters during the coronavirus outbreak merited the full powers of the law.

He said: "The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are more at risk from coronavirus so these scams are deliberately targeted at those vulnerable groups.

“I hope that when those behind these cynical acts are apprehended the misery they are trying to cause to vulnerable people is fully reflected in their sentencing.”

The NFIB has this week reported that fraudsters have been sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails in an attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.

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The bureau warns, in particular, of fraudsters purporting to be from research organisation’s affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) contact potential victims over email.

The phoney correspondents then claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area.

In order to access this information, the victim needs to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said he had personally been in touch with the police about the issue.

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Mr Jones said: "Coronavirus is serious. Many people across the globe are ill; many have died. It is a huge challenge for the World Health Organisation and the health services of all affected countries.

"I have contacted our local police and asked them to do all in their power to raise awareness of this activity so that residents are able to approach emails and phone calls with due care."