COVID-19 variant Omicron scams

Online fraudsters have quickly reacted to news of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, with a carefully crafted phishing campaign.

These new phishing emails are designed to appear as if they are sent from the NHS and urge recipients to get an ‘Omicron PCR test’ for the new variant. The bogus emails falsely claim that the new variant requires a new test kit. They feature a link, legitimate looking ‘get it now’ button and are sent from ‘NHS Customer Service’.

The emails invite readers to click the link which takes you to a phishing site, which then asks users to enter their full name, date of birth, address, mobile number, email address and their mother’s maiden name – which scammers could use to craft follow-on identity fraud attacks. It also asks for a payment of £1.24 for ‘delivery’. Presumably, if users proceed with this, they will also have their bank card details stolen.

The NHS has widely publicised that this is a scam as there is no specific Omicron PCR testing kit and testing is completely free of charge.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau expect an increase in fraud reports related to the Omicron variant. Additionally there is also an expectation of continued fraud reports linked to COVID Passes, particularly as fraudsters look to take advantage of people now looking to book holidays for summer 2022.

There is also a likelihood of increased scams relating to booster injections now that the over 18’s are invited to now come forward. Any confusion around the new variant and new PCR testing rules is likely to be exploited by scammers.

The implementation of Plan B measures due to the new variant could also lead to an increase in demand for counterfeit certifications or other fraud reports relating to COVID passes.

For the latest COVID 19 information and guidance from the NHS, click here.

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