Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards is warning people to be wary of suspicious emails as fraudsters attempt to exploit the spread of coronavirus.
Since last month the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports across Britain where coronavirus was mentioned with victims losing over £800,000 in total.
Ten of these reports were made by victims attempting to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. In one instance a victim reported losing more than £15,000.
None of the reports have been in the Devon, Somerset or Torbay area.
Fraudsters are also sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing sensitive personal and financial details.
This includes emails purporting to be from research organisations affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation.
The emails claim to be able to provide the recipient with a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. In order to access this information, the victim is asked to click on a link, which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.
Rachael Holden, Group Manager for Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service, said: “There are several ways you can protect yourself. If you are not sure of the sender or if the email looks suspicious do not respond or click on any of the links. If you are making an online purchase from a company or person you don’t know, if possible, do some research. And always install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats.”