The world had not heard of Omicron until a few days ago but scammers are already trying to capitalise.
A new hoax email is doing the rounds offering a PCR test specifically designed for the new variant.
It falsely claims that people who don’t book a ‘free’ test will be forced to self-isolate for 10 days.
The poorly written message – which at one point spells the variant ‘Omicorn’ – may seem implausible when examined but could appear legitimate to a vulnerable person or anyone in a hurry.
Meaghan Kall, an epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency, raised the alarm about the scam on Twitter.
She wrote: ‘This fake test order form is doing the rounds. There is NO “Omicron PCR test”.
‘Omicron is detected perfectly well using PCR tests currently in operation.
‘Such a shame, but not a surprise, to see people preying on people’s fears for financial gain.’
Anti-fraud government bodies and groups have gone to great lengths to warn people about scams linked to the pandemic.
It didn’t take long for criminals to spot an opportunity to make some cash out of the public health crisis.
Between February and March 2020 alone, when the country was first learning about Covid-19, £800k was lost to fraud.
UK Finance warned last year that ‘criminals have ruthlessly adapted to this pandemic with scams exploiting the rise in people working from home and spending time online’.
In September 2021, scammers jumped on reports that vaccine passports could be introduced to roll out a new scheme targeting vulnerable people.
Criminals sent out imitation text messages, emails and made phone calls pretending to be from the NHS and offering fake vaccine certificates for sale online.
Action Fraud urges people not to clink on links when they are contacted unsolicited by someone claiming to be or represent an official organisation.
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