Image - lbrut-covid-scam

A fake text message being sent to Richmond residents telling them they have been ‘caught’ flouting the Government’s ‘lock down’ rules, the Council has announced.

Following the Government announcement informing people to stay at home, one text message was sent across all mobile phone networks, informing people that the new rules were in force.

Following this official message, people have been receiving fake text messages that give the impression the Government is tracking people’s movements. They contain messages claiming to know that people have left their homes too many times and will be subject to punishment as a result.

The Government has since stated that it has only sent one text message out about the new rules put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Any other messages that people receive claiming to be official are false.

Fake messages include one that a title GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT. It then says: “New rules now in force now: you must stay at home. More info & exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus.

“We would like to inform you that you have been recorded as leaving your home on 3 occasions yesterday. A fine of £35 has been added to your gov.uk account. For further information please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-penalty-payment-tracking. Protect the NHS. Save Lives.”

If people visit the link, and provide their payment details, they are revealing their bank account data and at risk of losing even more money.

If you receive a call, text or other communication that you think might be a scam, hang up or delete the text and report it to Action Fraud, including the number that was used to contact you.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, said:

“Unfortunately any crisis, whether global, national or local acts as a beacon for the sort of scum who want to exploit the vulnerable and the frightened. The Covid19 Pandemic is, I’m afraid, no exception.

“My message is simple - if you are sent a message from any official organisation asking for money or any personal information - it is almost certain to be a fake. Do not click on any links.

“Anyone who receives this text should ignore it. It is simply another ruse to steal the payment details of users.”

For any more information, please see this update regarding Scams from the Police.

– from a Richmond Council press release - 30 March 2020