BANKING and mobile industries are uniting to tackle coronavirus message scams as it emerged fraudsters in Scotland are now impersonating the NHS to try and con people out of cash.

East Lothian Council has warned of people going door-to-door pretending to be NHS workers collecting donations or offering to shop for money.

Fraudsters have also offered to spray paths and driveways with anti-bacterial treatment for cash.

It comes as warnings have been issues about criminals impersonating the UK Government to trick people out of their cash.

Now the UK mobile industry, banking and finance sector and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have joined forces to prevent criminals from sending scam text messages exploiting the Covid-19 crisis.

The messages are to be blocked in an ongoing initiative with 400 unauthorised sender IDs being blacklisted to stop them being used to mimic trusted organisations.

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Marjorie Gibson, head of operations with Scotland’s national consumer advice service,, said: “This kind of despicable behaviour will cause anxiety and stress at a time when so many are finding the lockdown difficult to cope with.

“It’s sickening that rogue traders are looking to prey on the vulnerable during this crisis, and we urge everyone to be vigilant.

“Fraudsters can sound very plausible and persuasive, and it can be easy to be taken in by them, which is why we always advise people not to immediately contract with someone who cold calls on doorsteps. That advice is clearly even more important during the coronavirus lockdown."

East Lothian Council said it is "not rude to shut your door" and urged people to be on the alert for con artists and report any suspicious callers to Police Scotland.

Google has said scammers are sending 18 million hoax emails about Covid-19 every day, while security experts say they have discovered more than 700 fake websites mimicking Netflix and Disney+ signup pages as criminals try to take advantage of the lockdown to harvest people’s bank details.

One email scam talks of a "nationwide appeal" in efforts to tackle Covid-19 and seeks to cash in on the public's support for the NHS.

It says that NHS partners are "looking for individuals" who can support in the purchase of medical preparations and supplies, mental health support and welfare initiatives to support staff and more "not just now but in the weeks and months to come".

It says "Now its our time to support all the NHS staff providing that outstanding care and say thank you."

It goes on: "Right now our staff are under an unprecedented amount of pressure and are working around the club to deal with the impact of Covid-19. They are literally pulling out all the stops to ensure they are providing the very best of care now - and that they will be able to cope with the predicted rise in patient numbers."

While official-looking HM Government and NHS logos make the mailshots seem legitimate, it then fraudulently asks for donations to be sent by directly by bank transfer.

Police Scotland has warned about the email scam saying: "Criminals will use any opportunity they can to defraud the public out of money, often impersonating professional and legitimate organisations.

"Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into donating money, and never make donations by cash or gift card, or send money through transfer agents such as Western Union or Moneygram."

A separate scam comes under the guise of a coronavirus text message alert advising people they have been fined for breaching lockdown rules.

The are an example of 'smishing' text messages which claim to be from legitimate organisations such as banks or government departments and try to trick people into giving away their personal and financial information or cash.

Some texts may claim that the recipient has to make a "penalty payment" after having been seen leaving their house on several occasions.

One that is doing the rounds appear to be a link to an a government website but is fake, and states: "We would like to inform you that you have been recorded as leaving your home on three occasions yesterday. A fine of £35 has been added to your account."

Others texts claim that the recipient is due to a Government payment as part of efforts to support people affected by the virus.

Other scams have involved fake sanitisers, bogus food supplements they claim stop people from catching Covid-19 and promises of two months free council tax because of the pandemic.

UK Finance also warned that criminals use a technique called spoofing, which can make a message appear in a chain alongside previous genuine messages from organisations.

It said the banking industry continues to work closely with mobile network operators, Government and other industry bodies to crack down on frauds.

The industry initiative by the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF), is helping to identify and block fraudulent SMS texts and safeguard messages from legitimate businesses and organisations.

MEF has developed a “white list” which allows organisations to register and protect the sender IDs used when sending out legitimate text messages.

The registry limits the ability of criminals to send messages using the same sender ID as a particular brand or government department, by checking first whether the sender is the genuine registered party. And a blacklist has been established to block messages from sender IDs that have been used to send scam texts, or from unauthorised variations that could be used to impersonate trusted brands and organisations in future.

Dr Ian Levy, Technical Director at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said: “We are pleased to be supporting this experiment which is yielding promising results. The UK Government’s recent mass-text campaign on Covid-19 has demonstrated the need for such industry collaboration in order to protect consumers from these kind of scams.”

The consumer organisation Which? has today launched a free scam alert service to warn consumers about the latest fraud attempts and give advice about how they can protect themselves, as criminals exploit the coronavirus outbreak to unleash a new range of scams.

Available to everyone, those signing up will receive warnings about the latest scams as the group uncovers them, along with information about how to spot a scam and protect themselves against falling victim to fraudsters.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which? said: “The coronavirus outbreak has created the perfect storm for scams, with fraudsters using callous tactics to exploit people’s fears and vulnerability for their own financial gain.

"Everyone should be extra cautious about clicking on links in any unsolicited emails and texts or answering calls. Make sure your computers, mobile phones and tablets are supported by the latest security updates, and consider installing antivirus software to minimise threats.”