24th June 2020

COVID-19 business grants scam

A new scam has surfaced in which fraudsters pose as the Government in order to get businesses’ bank details.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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I want to warn businesses that they should be eagle-eyed when receiving emails offering help, and never click the links in them

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has learned that UK internet users are receiving bogus emails from fraudsters offering fake business grants. The emails, dressed in UK government branding, are the latest in a series of scam messages claiming to be from the Government.

One email informs the recipient that they have been awarded a Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant valued at £25,000. The message asks the recipient to click a link and enter their personal and payment details. The data is sent to scammers, who then deduct money from the account.

Trading standards is concerned that businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector may be more likely to fall for the phoney grant, given the devastating effects the COVID-19 coronavirus has had on the sector.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “I have seen so many different kinds of emails, texts, and reports of doorstep and phone scams themed around COVID-19.

“I want to warn businesses that they should be eagle-eyed when receiving emails offering help, and never click the links in them. I understand that this seems like good news, especially for businesses deeply affected by lockdown, but always remember that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Just don’t risk it.”

It is currently Scams Awareness fortnight. As part of this, the Consumer Protection Partnership (CPP) is bringing together key partners in the consumer protection landscape to better identify, prioritise and coordinate collective action against scams. This includes collective action to inform, educate and protect consumers about scams.