The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing devastation across the UK and the world, in terms of health, and financially too. Shockingly, some fraudsters are attempting to exploit the crisis – and Tesco and Morrisons shoppers have now been issued a warning for this very reason.
Customers have been told not to be fooled by genuine-looking emails and Whatsapp messages, as scammers have created fake vouchers which reference COVID-19.
Among the supermarkets which have been specifically targeted by scammers include Tesco and Morrisons, however shoppers elsewhere are also being urged to watch out.
Police have said they are aware of a link to a scam website which uses the name “Morrison’s Super Market” – something which has been received through Whatsapp as a forwarded message.
The scam message reads: “Morrison’s is giving away free groceries worth £250 to support the nation during Corona pandemic. Hurry up! Collect your FREE voucher.”
A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police said: “It’s said to appear genuine and the link to the website provided was: http://morrisons.uk-groceries.store/#
“As you can see, the URL starts with just ‘HTTP’ which isn’t secure, always check you have HTTPS within your browser for the most secure way of browsing (this ‘S’ stands for secure).
“Always check the spelling is correct and look out for numbers used instead of letters and added symbols like the ‘#’ as this is a method used on fake sites to trick you.”
While people are urged not to click suspicious-looking links, should the recipient have clicked on this link, it’s said to work as expected and seemed genuine.
Reports say that the person is then asked to answer three initial questions and are then led to another web page, asking them to circulate this offer among friends via WhatsApp.
In the process of sharing the message, the victim is then led to another page, which says that they can win an iPhone 11.
However, they are asked to pay £1 for handling charges, and bank or credit card details are requested to process the payment.
Cyber Crime Prevent and Protect Officer, Kirsty Jackson, said: “Criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people.
“They will continue to exploit every angle of this national crisis and we want people to be prepared.
“We will be sharing scam advice where possible to try and get one step ahead of these criminals and we want to help the public protect themselves from these scams where possible.
“However, we will need the help of the public to share this as much as possible, including conversations with those less likely to see our alerts.
“We are not trying to scare people at a time when they are already anxious.
“We simply want people to be aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect themselves from handing over their money, or personal details, to criminals, please see below for our top tips and you can also refer to our website www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/cybercrime to complete our ‘online safety checklist’.”
Another report of a scam which police have warned about is one which purports to be from Tesco.
It reads: “Dear Customer,
“TESCO is giving you a chance to shop for free this COVID-19 season at any of out outlets or online by giving out free vouchers.
“This offer is for All users and it will be on until the end of April 2020.
“To Qualify follow the link below and input all the details required.
“After validation, if selected your voucher will be sent via text message or posted to your Mailbox.
“Thanks for taking part, The Tesc0 team.”
Writing on Twitter, Action Fraud said: “ALERT: We’ve received several reports about these fake Tesco emails offering ‘free vouchers’ during the coronavirus outbreak.
“The link leads to a convincing-looking phishing website that is designed to steal your login, personal and financial information!”