Criminals have been exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to target victims for fraud “at every stage”

Police and banks are warning that vaccine scams are emerging as a “top threat” as criminals are using jab promises to steal bank details.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence of fraudulent messages sent to the public informing them that a dose of the new COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.

Those who enter their personal details could be targeted by fraudsters, they warned.

FAKE MESSAGES: Those who enter their personal details could be targeted by fraudsters, people being told to be alert.

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 website requests personal details, including name and address. Most concerningly, it asks for banking details, supposedly for verification.

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.”

This scam is by no means limited to the region, and people throughout the UK are warned that they 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.

A Neighbourhood Watch warning about the scam

“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.”

To report scams, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.