CYBERSERCURITY experts have said a series of scams are trying to exploit fears surrounding the spread of coronavirus, and they are warning people not to fall for them.

The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) alert comes in the wake of reports that malicious ploys have already duped people in the UK out of more than £800,000.

Fraudsters are now exploiting fears over Covid-19 by sending out coronavirus-themed phishing emails claiming to be from a reliable source, in the hope of gaining personal information, financial details and tricking people into opening malicious attachments.

The rogue emails claim to be affiliated with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Scammers say they can provide the recipient with a list of people in their area affected by coronavirus, should the recipient click on a link to access the information.

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However, the links lead to a malicious website – or they may be asked to pay in Bitcoin.

Multiple victims have also tried to buy protective face masks from fraudulent sellers for as much as £15,000 in one case. It is feared the panic surrounding coronavirus could lead to many being drawn into the scams.

Ian Stephen, the SBRC’s head of business resilience, said: “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.

“Don’t be complacent either. These fraudulent emails are often highly convincing, but they do present tell-tale signs about their true nature which can act as strong warning signs. By doing simple things such as checking the address of the email sender, or by checking the URL link before visiting the website, users can significantly reduce the risks of being caught out.”