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Fraudsters target the vulnerable with fake messages offering vaccines - UK

By Mike Bedigan, PA

People in the UK should be wary of fraudulent messages offering them access to coronavirus vaccinations, trading standards authorities have warned.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said that text messages had been sent out including links to fake NHS websites that asked recipients for bank details, supposedly for verification purposes.

Such messages were first reported at the end of December on the Western Isles of Scotland, but the CTSI says they are “by no means limited to the region”.

It comes as the Government announced a target of vaccinating 14 million people in the highest priority groups by February 15.

According to the CTSI, the messages – which state that recipients have been identified as “eligible to apply for your vaccine” – are the latest in a series of Covid-related scams in circulation since last March.

Katherine Hart, lead officer at the CTSI, said: “I have been tracking and warning the public about Covid-19-related scams since the beginning of the pandemic, and at every stage of response, unscrupulous individuals have modified their campaigns to defraud the public.

“The vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others.

“The NHS will never ask you for banking details, passwords, or Pin numbers and these should serve as instant red flags.

“Do not provide any information to the scammers, but please also report suspicious messages to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, Police Scotland, as this provides intelligence and assists authorities in combating scams.”

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