Scam websites removed amid 15-fold rise in online fraud during Covid

Figures showed 719 cases of online shopping or auction fraud were recorded against Suffolk based victims ince January...

Suffolk Trading Standards has been involved in taking down a number of scam websites - Credit: PA

A number of scam websites have been taken down by Suffolk Trading Standards amid a continued rise in online fraud during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The organisation said people in the county have been experiencing a "higher volume" of internet fraud as scammers look to exploit the Covid-19 crisis. 

The news comes as the UK's security agency said it had taken down more scams in the past year than the previous three years combined. 

Experts oversaw a 15-fold rise in the removal of online campaigns compared with 2019, according to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

There was a jump in the number of phishing attacks using NHS branding to dupe victims, with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout used as a lure via email and text message to harvest people's personal information for fraud.

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Some 43 fake NHS Covid-19 apps hosted outside of official app stores were also pulled.

However, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) remains the most copied brand used by fraudsters, totalling more than 4,000 campaigns, followed by the Government's website, and TV Licensing.

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Overall, more than 700,500 campaigns were taken down, accounting for 1,448,214 URLs, the NCSC's fourth Active Cyber Defence report revealed.

A spokesman for Suffolk Trading Standards said many of the scams have been linked to Covid. 

“In the last year in Suffolk, just from the engagement we have had on our social media channels, it does appear that people have been experiencing a wide range and higher volume of scams," the spokesman said. 

“During the pandemic, we have been regularly sharing warnings about many different scams on our social media channels and in our weekly Join The Fight newsletter.

"Many are linked in some way to Covid-19, whether fake websites or fake text messages relating to vaccinations and parcel deliveries, all of which are attempts by criminals to get personal information or money."

Suffolk victims lost �28.5million to fraud in one year. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Coronavirus and NHS-themed scams have fuelled a rise in online fraud - Credit: PA

The spokesman added: “With many more people relying on online shopping, Suffolk Trading Standards has been directly involved in taking down a number of scam websites which take payments but never deliver the product or service.

"These have included sites selling sunglasses, beauty products, clothing and storage facilities.

“We’d like to thank everyone that reports a scam, as it builds our understanding of how criminals are operating, and will ultimately help to keep others safe.”

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