A cancer survivor from Stroud recieved a ‘sick’ email promising her a Covid vaccine which was sent by a fraudster trying to obtain her personal details.
Annie Lawrence*, who had leukaemia twice when she was growing up in Stroud, is one of more than 1,100 people who were sent vaccine scam emails in England yesterday, according to Action Fraud.
She has been shielding since March 2020 due to the after-effects of a bone marrow transplant, and had been looking forward to her vaccination until the scam left her feeling more vulnerable.
“It’s really disheartening and I just think it’s really sick that anybody would do that,” said Annie.
“It was shocking that somebody else in my position could be completely taken advantage of.”
“Being a vulnerable person, you’re even more vulnerable now than you realised – physically vulnerable, now also vulnerable to con artists.”
The email, pictured below, appears to be from the NHS, but on closer inspection is sent by an address named firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon clicking the link, Annie was asked to enter personal details when her partner, John Lawrence, became suspicious and they stopped.
“It gives you hope, hope that you’re going to get your vaccine and the next thing you know someone’s hacked into your bank account or your emails. It’s scary,” said John, who lectures at Gloucestershire College.
John, 32, said he worried about older people like his parents who might not be as familiar with computer and phone scams.
Stroud Police today warned residents: “We have received several reports of vaccine scams being sent to people in Stroud and The Cotswolds since the beginning of the year. These scams are mainly sent by email, text or via phone call. You will never be asked for your bank details to access the vaccine.”
Fraudsters are using the scam to aquire bank details or encourage people to click phishing links.
Head of Action Fraud Pauline Smith said: “It’s despicable that fraudsters will take advantage of such an important tool in the fight against this evil and deadly disease.
“Not only are the people being targeted with this email at risk of losing money, or having their identity stolen, but they are also at risk of not receiving the real vaccine.”
“The public have been fantastic at reporting these scams to us and raising awareness in their local community as well. But unfortunately, as this latest phishing campaign shows, we still have to remain cautious and alert. Remember: anything purporting to be from the NHS asking you to pay for the vaccine, or provide your bank account or card details, is a scam.”
Coronavirus vaccinations are free. The NHS will never:
- Ask for you bank account or card details
- Ask for your PIN or banking passwords
- Arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
- Ask for documentation to prove your identity such as a passport or utility bills.
*Annie did not wish to give her last name for this report, preferring her partners