Smishing, vishing and phishing: Covid vaccination scams to look out for

Woman administering a Covid-29 vaccine

People are urged to be vigilant about Covid-19 vaccination scams doing the rounds. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

East Londoners are being urged to beware of Covid-19 vaccine scams and to report any suspicious emails, websites, texts or calls.

Three scams were reported to the Met’s cyber crime unit in December, although police believe the actual number that have taken place could be higher.

Det Sgt Josh Pool, from the Met's cyber crime unit, said: "Sadly, criminals will exploit any opportunity to take people's hard-earned money - even a global pandemic will not stop them.

"It's positive to see that so few people have fallen victim to fraudulent vaccine scams in December, however we are concerned that people may not always be reporting when they have been deceived to the Met or to other authorities such as Action Fraud.” 

Here are three types of scams to look out for:

  • Smishing (SMS)

In one reported case, a fraudulent text message – a type of scam known as “smishing” - was sent out telling people they were eligible to apply for the vaccine.

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When the recipients clicked the link in the message, they were taken to a fake NHS website and asked to provide their sort code, account number and long card number - supposedly to verify a billing address.

  • Vishing (Voice call)

Police are also aware of a “vishing” scam where people receive a phone call offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details. 

They are also asked to press a number of their phone keypad or to send a text message to confirm that they wish to receive the vaccine – but in doing so, they will likely have a charge added to their phone bill. 

  • Phishing (Email)

Phishing emails – designed to trick people into providing personal details, financial information or user credentials – are also doing the rounds encouraging people to fill out a form to register for a vaccination.

Det Sgt Pool said: "Absolutely no one should be providing their bank details to the NHS when it comes to receiving this vaccine.” 

Anyone who receives what they believe to be vishing, smishing or phishing form of communication is asked to report it on the Met Police or Action Fraud websites.

Phishing emails can also be forwarded to report@phishing.gov.uk and smishing texts can be sent on to 7726. 

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