Covid-19 Scammers Everywhere, Licenced To Steal

Posted on Aug 27, 2020. by NTI

In the spirit of the pantomime season which, blessedly, is almost certainly not going to happen this year ... behind you! In an undercover operation familiar to aficionados of Line Of Duty the FCA have gone to some dark, terrible places (Birmingham, Margate, even Newcastle-Under-Lyme) in search of scammers in these times of Covid-19 blah, blah, blah ... It has revealed more than 150 cases from data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, by the Parliament Street think tank’s cyber research team. (That's one item ticked off Billy's very tiny bucket list - he has always wanted to type the words 'cyber research team' ... and is only 22.)

In case you are looking for ideas, in one of the scams, fraudsters pretended to be from HMRC and targeted company owners seeking Covid-19 relief grants to help manage their finances throughout the crisis. Those demonstrating less initiative included a targeted effort to steal the log-in credentials of HSBC customers with business accounts, and seeking to obtain the passport details of financial services workers. 

This is less of a news bulletin and more of a public information message, as some experts are warning that the rise in sophisticated Covid-19 related scams could leave financial services firms open to the risk of financial crime, especially with increasingly stringent Anti-Money Laundering legislation in the pipeline. 

Max Worrall, General Markets Sales Manager of the magnificently named, Encompass Corporation (who you just know has spent three days and nights on Salisbury Plain foraging for food, eating live rabbits and drinking his own urine), said: "There have been numerous reports of company owners and directors receiving highly realistic scam emails, requesting usernames, passwords, and bank details from workers." Apparently, some of the emails are not even from alleged Nigerian princes who claim to have been wrongly imprisoned by Christian Militia, so are particularly difficult to spot.

Max goes on (whilst chewing on the carcass of a pigeon) "These processes often involve reviewing personally identifiable information and documentation, something criminals are always seeking to get their hands on, by any means necessary. It is therefore vital that companies have in place the necessary anti-financial crime systems, as well as the ability to identify and confirm that the customer is who they say they are." 

Don't trust anyone. If your other half comes home tonight and claims that his credit card has been stopped and asks for yours to get some cash out - pin him to the floor immediately and truss him up like a turkey. Don't let him go for at least three days, or at least until he relinquishes his password for Netflix.

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