18th March 2020

Covid-19 update app scam threat

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has issued a further scam warning related to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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We must be extra cautious at this time and always be aware of the cyber threats that could put our IT infrastructure at risk

On Tuesday, CTSI issued a warning about new email scams. Today, it asks the public to be wary of a new emerging scam involving fake phone apps.

There are reports of several ‘coronavirus update’ apps, which claim to provide updates on the virus. The fake app contains a form of ‘ransomware’, named CovidLock, which upon downloading, locks the phone and displays a message demanding that the user pay a sum of money to unlock it. These apps are available to download from various unofficial websites.

Phone users are advised to only download apps directly from the Apple Store, or Android Play Store as these are safety checked by the platforms.

Katherine Hart, CTSI Joint Lead Officer for Doorstep Crime, said: “It is despicable that there are people who are willing to extort money at this critical time. Unfortunately; all businesses and consumers alike are at risk. We must be extra cautious at this time and always be aware of the cyber threats that could put our IT infrastructure at risk.”

For trusted news and advice on Covid-19 coronavirus, check for updates from the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK, Public Health England and the World Health Organisation (WHO).