Cybercriminals target NHS healthcare workers with email fraud

A number of healthcare workers have received emails about “coronavirus awareness” which has become part of a wider scam attempting to capitalise on the COVID-19 crisis. Healthcare organisations around the country have received correspondence that pretends to be from each firm’s internal IT team, according to Sky News.

The email leads with the subject “ALL STAFF: CORONAVIRUS AWARENESS”.

It goes on to tell employees that “the institution is currently organising a seminar for all staff to talk about this deadly virus”, asking them to click on a link to register.

Anyone that clicks the link is taken to a third-party website disguised as an Outlook web app.

A form is presented and if filled provides the hackers with crucial personal details.

Cybersecurity firm Mimecast’s head of data science Kiri Addison uncovered the scam.

She said the example is just one in a string of phasing emails sent since the coronavirus outbreak started.

These emails are most likely orchestrated by “organised cybercriminal gangs”.

Ms Addison said she was unable to name the groups involved or the organisations affected.

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She told Sky News: “There’s so much uncertainty around coronavirus, they’re just going to prey on people’s fears.”

Such scams have become common since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Last week, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) issued an urgent warning after identifying 21 cases of fraud involving coronavirus in February, including 10 that conned people desperate to buy face masks.

And, last week, Mimecast identified another email scam, in which criminals posed as HMRC and offered victims a tax refund.


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With the virus continuing to spread, many cyber experts say scams will also increase.

Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast, told Sky News: “As the impact of the virus spreads this activity is almost certain to increase in order to take advantage of individual’s fears and their increasing concern at this time.”

Meanwhile, coronavirus continues to grip the world, with global cases nearing the million mark.

The US has confirmed the record virus death toll.

As of Wednesday, there had been 884 coronavirus-related deaths.

This came as president Donald Trump revealed that federal stockpiles of personal protective equipment for medical professionals were almost depleted.

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing growing pressures to ramp up coronavirus testing.

On Tuesday Britain saw its biggest daily increase in deaths.

Some 2,352 virus patients had died in hospital as of 17:00 on Tuesday, up 563 in a day.

In response to this Mr Johnson said testing was “massively increasing” and it was “the way through” the pandemic.

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