Scammers try to sell omicron tests to extract financial details

Perth and Kinross Community Watch has issued a warning about con artists using the Omicron COVID-19 variant as a way to illegally get personal details and possibly steal money.

Scam messages have been generated and sent to vulnerable people, asking them to pay for special testing and threatening that those who do not pay for the bogus test will have to isolate.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has received evidence of the scam and does not want the public to be duped.

Members of the public have received emails using NHS branding as well as texts, calling on them to “apply now for Omicron PCR test to avoid restrictions.”

The message – already circulating in Perth and Kinross – claims that older PCR tests cannot detect the Omicron variant, that a new type of PCR test is required, and that supposedly, people should sign up to receive this new test.

It then claims that individuals who refuse to be tested will be forced to isolate.

Next there is a link to a mock-up website that looks like an official NHS platform.

The website hosts a form that requests personal details that could potentially be used to access sensitive information, such as bank accounts.

CTSI lead officer Katherine Hart said: “It disgusts me that scammers are jumping on the public’s fears about the Omicron variant in an attempt to steal their personal data.

“All of the claims in the email are false. The public is especially vulnerable at this time, and I call on everyone to share this message so that we can minimise the impact of this scam.

“It is also crucial that the public reports this scam to the authorities. By doing so, the public aids consumer protectors in mapping out the problem and recognising the sheer scale of it.”

It is not the first time fraudsters have used the pandemic for their gain – since March 2020, the unscrupulous have angled their scams on everything from bogus COVID-19 business support grants and vaccination bookings to fake vaccine passes.

To report scams contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000.

Police Scotland also advise members of the public to encourage family and friends to join their Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.

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