SICK fraudsters are cashing in on the spread of deadly coronavirus with scam e-mails claiming to list dozens of infected patients across Britain.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau said victims had been conned out of more than £800,000 in the last month.
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Fraud cops have received 21 reports where coronavirus has been used to part Brits from their cash by criminals.
In one scam, victims were sent an e-mail claiming to provide a link to the names of infected patients in the UK so they can check if they've come into contact.
The e-mail claims to be from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The message contains either a link to a phishing website or asks the victim to directly make a payment via bitcoin.
Another scam e-mail circulated by a number of potential victims on Twitter claims to be official government correspondence sent to the recipient.
It claims a new tax refund of £128.34 will be provided for help in protecting themselves against coronavirus.
A malicious link is provided with the words: 'Access your funds now'.
Other con artists have been claiming to sell protective face masks before taking money without sending any goods.
Action Fraud said one victim had been scammed out of £15,000 after placing an order for a large quantity of masks.
It is said to be one of 10 incidents where victims have tried to buy face masks from fraudsters.
A City of London Police spokesperson said: "Don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.
"If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase.
"If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases."
UK'S FIRST CORONAVIRUS DEATH
So far, 116 people in Britain have been infected with the coronavirus, including a 75-year-old woman from Berkshire who died yesterday after catching the virus while suffering from underlying health conditions.
Health chiefs have urged shoppers not to panic buy as coronavirus spreads.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The Government has supplies of the key things that are needed, and, within the food supply, we are absolutely confident that there won't be a problem there.
"And, crucially, we are working to makes sure that if people are self isolating, they will be able to get the food and supplies that they need."
He added there was "absolutely no need" for individual people "to go round buying more than they need."
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty also warned commuters and shoppers wearing face masks will have 'little effect' on stopping the spread of the virus.
The World Health Organisation has advised healthy people should only wear a mask if they are taking care of someone suspected to have the virus.
People who have been diagnosed with coronavirus or who are ill after returning from an affected area are advised not be out in public – with or without a mask.
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