Residents urged to beware of coronavirus scams

Monday 27 April 2020

Residents in Kensington and Chelsea are being reminded to be vigilant against fraudsters looking to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trading Standards officers are aware of several scams currently circulating which claim to provide information or advice related to the pandemic or claiming to have charitable aims.

Some bogus online suppliers have been offering products in high demand such as hand sanitiser without delivering the goods. Trading Standards officers are aware of price inflation and unclear price marking within some businesses.

Cllr Cem Kemahli, lead member for trading standards, said:

“It’s disgraceful and morally reprehensible that opportunists are trying to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m urging all our residents to be vigilant against scams including fraudsters claiming to be from government or health authorities. Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

 “Most of our essential shops have been working hard to stock the goods people need but we are aware of the risk of inflated pricing and unclear price marking. It is disappointing to see a minority of businesses breaking the law and trying to profiteer from this pandemic. Our residents won’t forget their behaviour. We will strictly enforce against misleading pricing in our borough. ”

So far we are aware of the following COVID-19 related scams:

  • Fraudsters posing as charity volunteers offering to help with shopping, offering fake virus testing, or claiming to be raising funds for charity.  

  • Text messages received from what appears to be the government or HMRC claiming the recipient can claim a lump sum goodwill gesture or claiming the consumer has been fined £30-£60 for being out more than once a day.

  • An email scam claims to be from the government offering a tax rebate in light of the recent coronavirus pandemic and asking you to enter bank details. Genuine emails from government will never ask for your bank details.
  • An email scam claims to be from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The email, which claims to hold crucial coronavirus safety advice, has an attachment which downloads a keylogger, allowing scammers to follow the online movements of the user, and gain access to their device and personal details.
  • Fraudsters sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn.
  • An email claiming to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account. 
  • A flyer circulating through doors requesting food donations for YMCA foodbanks. The YMCA has not been involved in this initiative.

Residents should ignore suspicious communications and report anything unusual to www.actionfraud.police.uk.

Trading Standards can enforce against misleading pricing and is looking at legislation to determine how to address price inflation.

If you would like to report an issue with pricing please email trading.standards@rbkc.gov.uk.

We are updating our pages regularly with all the latest information on council services and coronavirus.