15th December 2021

Omicron sparks latest email scam

CTSI has received evidence of a scam that exploits people’s concerns about the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.


By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
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The public is especially vulnerable at this time, and I call on everyone to share this message so that we can minimise the impact of this scam

Members of the public have received an email clad in NHS branding as well as texts calling on them to “apply now for Omicron PCR test to avoid restrictions.”

The message claims that older PCR tests cannot detect the Omicron variant, that a new type of PCR test is required, and that supposedly, people should sign up to receive this new test. It then claims that individuals who refuse to be tested will be forced to isolate and links to a bogus website mock-up that looks like an official NHS platform.

The website hosts a form that requests personal details that could potentially be used to access sensitive information, such as bank accounts.

CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “It disgusts me that scammers are jumping on the public’s fears about the Omicron variant in an attempt to steal their personal data. All of the claims in the email are false. The public is especially vulnerable at this time, and I call on everyone to share this message so that we can minimise the impact of this scam.

“It is crucial that the public reports this scam to the authorities. By doing so, the public aids consumer protectors in mapping out the problem and recognising the sheer scale of it.”

CTSI Chief Executive, John Herriman, said: “I want to thank the trading standards professionals across the country who undertake work to protect the public from the social effects of COVID-19, including the prevalent scams that use the pandemic and the restrictions imposed as launchpads for their schemes. They take this on in addition to their already heavy workload, like halting the current avian flu outbreak and, as always, enforcing the hundreds of pieces of consumer protection legislation.”

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