EXPERTS are warning Helensburgh and Lomond residents not to fall for coronavirus scams that have already duped the UK public out of more than £800,000.

Citizens’ Advice Bureau advisers and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) are urging local residents to exercise extreme caution against scammers exploiting fears surrounding Covid-19 by sending out phishing emails falsely claiming to be from a reliable source in the hope of gaining personal information and financial details.

Some scams relate to insurance and pension opportunities, with a link to fake web accounts, while SBRC claims others relate to fake emails from the World Health Organisation, which claim to allow access to information about who is affected by the virus but instead take recipients to malicious websites.

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Joe McCormack, from Citizens’ Advice, added: “There have also been a number of cases of organisations claiming that products such as teas, gels, essential oils, etc will help either in treating or preventing coronavirus.

“None of this is true and if you have any concerns about health then the NHS websites are the most up to date provider of information. However, should you have immediate concerns about your own health then you should speak to a GP.

“The third type of scam is offering vaccinations for coronavirus. There are no antidotes or cures at this time. Again, contact NHS.”

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Mr McCormack added: “Our advice is as always, if you have any queries about coronavirus then for health updates, you should contact the NHS website and for information updates you should use normal information sources such as the local press websites or national media.

“People can also contact the CAB on Facebook or through our own website.”

In some cases, emails have been sent to potential victims pretending to be affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation.

The scammers then claim to be able to provide the reader with a list of people in their area affected by coronavirus, however the link provided then leads to a malicious website.

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Multiple victims had also attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers for as much as £15,000 in one case.

Ian Stephen, head of business resilience with the SBRC, said: “These cynical scams are a telling example of how cyber criminals prey on people’s worries.

“It was a matter of time before coronavirus was used as a trigger, with scams likely to rise in numbers as the disease continues to spread across the globe.”

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