Coronavirus: Email scams removed in fight against Covid-19 scams

Britons have been encouraged to report suspicious emails seeking to secure personal details

Overhead view of woman with laptop holding credit card and smartphone. *** Local Caption *** 00233377
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UK officials took down more than 80 email scams within a day of launching a new cybercrime initiative to counter fraudsters exploiting public fears over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said it had received more than 5,000 responses to a new suspicious email reporting service within a day of its launch.

Chief executive Ciaran Martin said: “The immediate take-up of our new national reporting service shows that the UK is united in its defence against callous attempts to trick people online.

“While we have not seen a rise in email scams in the last month, coronavirus is the top lure currently used to conduct cyber-crime - exploiting public unease and fear of the pandemic.”

The 83 takedowns were of untargeted mass phishing attacks aimed at tricking people to hand over sensitive personal and financial details or encouraging them to visit a fake website. However, the removals represent only a small number of the centre’s operations with some 140,000 so-called phishing attacks being taken down in 2019.

The pandemic has provided an opportunity for fraudsters seeking to target the elderly and unwary by taking advantage of the increase in online trading amid global lockdowns.

The International policing organisation, Interpol, has warned of efforts by cybercriminals to increase their use of ransomware to target key institutions involved in the virus response. Ransomware locks organisations out of their own computer systems unless they pay large sums to the criminals.