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HMRC takes down nearly 300 Covid-19 phishing scam sites since March

HMRC takes down nearly 300 Covid-19 phishing scam sites since March

The UK's Inland Revenue has formally asked Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to remove 292 scam web addresses exploiting the Coronavirus outbreak since 23rd March, according to official figures.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by Griffin Law, revealed that of the 292 sites removed, 237 were proactively identified and requested for removal by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) independently, with the remaining 55 flagged by members of the public.

HMRC also disclosed that it had identified a total of 62 active phishing scams related to Covid-19 since March, with the majority in the form of text message scams.

Two weeks ago it was revealed that a scam email purporting to be from HMRC was in circulation advertising the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The email, which used official HMRC branding and was authored to ‘Jim Harra, first permanent secretary and chief executive of HMRC’ and asked business owners to hand over bank account details.

Cyber expert Andy Harcup, VP, Absolute Software comments: “With millions of people working remotely during the lockdown, hackers are creating increasingly sophisticated email and text message scams designed to trick individuals into handing over confidential data. We’ve already seen a huge rise in phishing attacks purporting to be from key government initiatives such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, asking for bank account details and other personal information.

"It’s vital that during this difficult time companies and workers remain vigilant; checking the legitimacy of all emails and ensure that they have the necessary security systems in place to identify these threats and prevent cyber criminals from exploiting vulnerable people during the Covid-19 outbreak.”

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