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Cyber experts shine light on online scams as British public flag over 160,000 suspect emails

In just over two weeks, the public has passed on more than 160,000 suspect emails.

  • National Cyber Security Centre reveals range of fraudulent sites it has blocked with the help of the British public
  • Scams include attempts to exploit coronavirus fears through fake offers of testing kits and face masks
  • Public have flagged more than 160,000 messages to the NCSC’s new suspicious email reporting service – with more than 1,400 links to scams removed

CYBER security experts have today lifted the lid on some of the online scams which the British public have reported to a pioneering new Suspicious Email Reporting Service.

Emails reported to the National Cyber Security Centre include callous attempts by criminals to exploit the coronavirus through fake offers of face masks and testing kits.

In just over two weeks since the NCSC and police launched the service, the public has passed on more than 160,000 suspect emails, leading to the removal of over 1,400 links to bogus sites.

Today the NCSC has shared some examples of what it has removed with the help of the reporting service. 

These include:

  • Scam web pages that have been flagged include mock-ups of official and TV licencing websites. Visitors are lured into giving their billing information to scammers posing as these legitimate organisations.
  • There has also been scam web pages purporting to sell coronavirus linked bogus products such as testing kits, face makes and even vaccines. The NCSC noted a rise in cyber crime exploiting the coronavirus pandemic last month.

The automated email reporting service makes it easier than ever for people to help protect others from falling victim to scams.

To use it, people are asked to simply forward suspect emails to [email protected]. If they are found to link to malicious content, it will be taken down or blocked, helping prevent future victims of crime.

Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the NCSC, said:

“This really is a phenomenal response from the British public. I would like to thank them for embracing our reporting service as well as the many organisations which have promoted it. 

“While cyber criminals continue to prey on people’s fears, the number of scams we have removed in such a short timeframe shows what a vital role the public can play in fighting back.

“I would urge people to remain vigilant and to forward suspect emails to us. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Commander Karen Baxter, City of London Police, National Lead Force for Fraud, said:

“While the world is coming together to combat this global health crisis, criminals are intent on exploiting our unease, anxiety and vulnerabilities in these unprecedented times.

“The fact the public have taken the opportunity to fight back and show these criminals how unacceptable this is, is fantastic.

“Fraud is an incredibly underreported crime. The more the police know about fraud, and fraud attempts, the better chance they have of tracking down those responsible and bringing them to justice.”

The service was launched alongside the new cross-governmental Cyber Aware campaign, which promotes six top tips to help keep yourself secure online.

Within just 24 hours of the service launching more than 80 scam URLS were taken down in a day after 5,000 suspicious emails were flagged.

If people have lost money, they should tell their bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud, but sending emails to [email protected] will offer an automated service to people who flag what they think to be a suspicious email and prevent others from falling victim to these scams.

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