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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) scams

There are reports of a global increase in the incidence of scams as cyber criminals take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to lure victims into providing personal identity and financial details, and distributing malware and other digital viruses aimed at taking your money. The latest scams are all designed to take advantage of the changes to our daily life – an increase in the number of people working from home, loss of jobs and financial vulnerability, fear of contagion and the scarcity of some basic goods and services.

bcu have a robust range of processes in place to detect and prevent unauthorised financial activity but when it comes to protecting our members from scams we need you to play a part. Please follow all the usual rules around scam prevention and familiarise yourself with the below examples of recent scams we have seen. If you are at any point concerned that your bcu financial details have been compromised please contact us as soon as possible so that our Financial Crime team can investigate.

You can read more about staying safe online here.

Fake SMS alerts

The below examples show how scammers will use official looking information to make you believe the text message has been genuinely issued by a government department.

All genuine government communications regarding COVID-19 will be posted on the official Australian Government Department of Health website that can be found at health.gov.au or the state government websites at nsw.gov.au and qld.gov.au. If you receive an SMS regarding COVID-19 advice, do not click on any links within the SMS but go to the related official website by typing the address into your Internet browser.

covid 19 scam

covid 19 scam 2

Phishing emails

The following are known scams at the moment however please understand that the look, feel and content of scams can change daily. Phishing emails are designed to trick you into visiting a website that lures you into providing personal identity and financial details or launches harmful malware to your device when you open an attachment. If you receive an email regarding COVID-19 advice, do not click on any links within the email but go to the related official website by typing the address into your Internet browser.

  • Australia Post email purporting to advise Australians which countries are experiencing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • World Health Organisation email prompting recipient to follow link or open attachment to obtain up to date details about latest COVID-19 safety measures.
  • Australia Taxation Office email requesting an attached application form be competed for financial relief payments. The Australian Government has advised that there will be no application process for the recently announced relief payments.

Investment scams

Preying on the vulnerability of people in the global economic instability caused by the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of investment scams circulating online amongst social networking sites as well as cold calls to the home phone. These scammers will usually lure victims with the promise of significant returns or a 'safer' investment by issuing fake investment reports and account balances to demonstrate the benefits. In some cases the scammer will issue a small genuine return of 10% or more with the promise of greater returns upon further deposits. Most investment scams at the moment will reference cryptocurrency as it is widely misunderstood to be a ‘quick return’ investment. In many cases the scammers are indeed purchasing cryptocurrency with your funds, but it’s to launder your money, not get you a good return.

Online sales scams

In the same vein as ‘puppy scams’, online predators are taking advantage of the scarcity of basic goods and services to lure victims – online marketplaces are reporting an increase in scam advertisements for everything from toilet paper and cleaning products to computers and home office furniture, even pre-paid Covid19 home test kits.

For more information on the latest scams visit the Scamwatch government website.