Fake vaccine texts – all take and no give

Published on Thursday 7 January 2021

Fraudsters are texting people with fake messages falsely promising them a COVID-19 vaccination with the single aim of draining their bank accounts.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has evidence of fraudulent messages being sent to people advising that a dose of the new COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.

The text message claims to be from the NHS and states - "We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine."

The message ends with a link to a bogus website mocked-up to look like a legitimate NHS platform. This website requests personal details, including the person’s name and address.

It also, most worrying of all, asks for banking details, supposedly for verification.

This is a fake message, a fake website and a cruel scam that seeks to capitalise on people’s desire to be protected from coronavirus.

Please don’t be fooled.

It is the latest in a series of pandemic-themed scams that have been in circulation since March 2020. With the UK vaccine roll-out underway, scammers have twisted their scam designs to piggy-back this game-changing development.

Phoney messages have been sent across the UK and were first reported in Scotland over the festive season.

Be in no doubt – local and national NHS services will never ask for your banking details.

Katherine Hart, Lead Officer at 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."

To report scams, contact Action Fraud, or contact Police Scotland online or by calling 101.