A new text message scam attempts to trick recipients into handing over banking details under the pretext of offering COVID-19 vaccine passes.
Lead Officer Katherine Hart informed CTSI that her two young sons, who both live in Scotland where some public venues such as nightclubs require the presentation of a vaccine pass for entry, were at the receiving end of this scam.
The brothers received a message stating: “NHS: you are eligible to apply for a Covid Pass proving you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.” The message was followed by a link to a bogus website designed to look like an official NHS platform.
The website requested visitors to enter their information, and crucially their banking details, to pay the supposed fee of £4.99. Fortunately, Hart’s son investigated the website further and found it had several dead links, which raised alarm bells, and he didn’t go through with making the payment.
Hart said: “During the holiday season, millions of people are looking forward to getting out and enjoying themselves after what has been almost two years of challenges presented by the pandemic. Unfortunately, unscrupulous scammers are manipulating measures implemented to protect the public by cloaking their scams in NHS branding.
“The case of my sons receiving this text also illustrates that young people are being directly targeted by scammers, breaking the stereotype that it is primarily the elderly who are victims of scams. The pandemic has revealed the extent that fraudsters will go to manipulate modern technologies and the ongoing health crisis we face.
“The NHS does not charge for COVID passes. Anyone receiving these messages via text or email should not only ignore them but also report them to the authorities. By reporting scams, the public enables us to develop a clear picture of the size and scale of this issue, aiding our work combatting scams in the future.”
The public is encouraged to join Friends Against Scams, an initiative aiming to protect and prevent people from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.