The Omicron Covid variant was named and dubbed a “variant of concern” just four days ago – but fraudsters are already trying to con worried Brits out of their cash
The NHS has warned that fraudsters are trying to cash in on public concern with a scam offering PCR tests for the new Omicron strain.
Just four days after Omicron was named and labelled a “variant of concern”, the NHS has warned of scam emails offering the service and asking for bank details.
In a tweet, NHS UK said: “Beware of fake NHS emails asking you to order ‘an Omicron PCR test’.
“We never ask for bank details, so please be aware of suspicious emails or text messages.”
The health service advised anyone affected to get in touch with the National Cyber Security Centre, which offers guidance on dodgy emails, texts, websites and calls, Birmingham Live reports.
The Omicron scam is just the most recent in a series of Covid-related rackets which started soon after the virus was first announced.
In a strikingly similar cheat in 2020, criminals in Birmingham asked residents to dish out £60 for a bogus Covid test.
In January, cops in Worcestershire said people were receiving fake emails, which looked like official NHS messages inviting them to book Covid vaccinations.
Scientists became aware of the new variant on November 23, after samples were uploaded to a coronavirus variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana.
It was named Omicron and designated as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation, with several countries now imposing tougher controls to try to stop it spreading.
The latest Omicron scam messages aren’t the first Covid-related fraud to emerge in the pandemic.
The National Cyber Security Centre provides clear guidance and advice about how to recognise and report scams.
It says: ” The purpose of a scam email is often to get you to click a link. This will take you to a website which might download a virus to your computer, or steal passwords or other personal information. This is sometimes known as ‘phishing’.
“The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has the power to investigate and remove scam email addresses and websites. It’s free to report a suspicious email to us and it only takes a minute.
“By reporting phishing attempts you can:
- reduce the amount of scam emails you receive
- make yourself a harder target for scammers
- protect others from cyber crime online”
It urged people not to click on links in suspicious emails and not to forward any that are in your spam or junk folder.
If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to [email protected]
Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.
If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk