Scientists learned of the new variant on November 23, after samples were uploaded to a coronavirus variant tracking website in South Africa, Hong Kong, and then Botswana.
It was named Omicron and named as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, with several countries now imposing tighter controls to try to stop its spread.
But already, within four days of his name, a new wave of fraud has arisen in an attempt to take advantage of public concerns.
READ MORE: How dangerous is the Omicron variant of Covid and why is it different?
Omicron’s latest fraudulent messages are not the first Covid-related fraud to emerge during the pandemic.
In 2020 we reported how criminals were taking advantage of Birmingham’s drop-off and collection service by asking residents to cough up £ 60 for a fake Covid test.
Scammers were also contacting residents by phone and asking them to pay for a Covid test.
In January, the West Mercia Police Economic Crime Unit, which covers Worcestershire and neighboring counties, said scammers were sending bogus emails that appeared to be asking people to book a vaccine against the NHS. the Covid-19. The “despicable” scam has been reported 1,000 times in one day.
In October, a 20-year-old Birmingham man was convicted of fraud after posing as the NHS in ‘phishing and smishing’ texts about Covid-19 and vaccinations.
READ MORE: All countries tighten borders as Omicron spreads – final travel advice
In the latest Omicron scam alert, NHS UK said in a tweet: ‘Beware of fake NHS emails asking you to order’ an Omicron PCR test ‘. We never ask for bank details, so be on the lookout for suspicious emails or texts. . “
The NHS directed people to the National Cyber Security Center which offers advice on fraudulent emails, texts, websites and calls.
Regarding the fraudulent emails, he said: ” Often the purpose of a scam email is to get you to click on a link. This will take you to a website that could download a virus to your computer, or steal passwords or other personal information. This is sometimes referred to as “phishing”.
“The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) has the power to investigate and remove fraudulent email addresses and websites. It is free to report a suspicious email to us and it only takes a minute.
“By reporting phishing attempts, you can:
- reduce the number of fraudulent emails you receive
- make you a harder target for crooks
- protect others from online cybercrime ”
He urged people not to click on links in suspicious emails and not forward those in your junk or junk mail folder.
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If you have received an email that you are not quite sure about, forward it to [email protected]
Suspicious SMS should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, report it to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk
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