Coronavirus scams hit online streaming users – warning to customers

Hundred of copycat websites have surfaced, imitating popular streaming companies including Netflix, Amazon and Disney. Criminals have created the counterfeit websites to harvest personal data from unsuspecting people, such as bank details and credit card information. This could leave streaming users potentially thousands out of pocket.


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In many cases, the websites cleverly mimic the design of well known companies, leading people into a false sense of security and exploiting them.

Cybersecurity firm Mimecast identified 700 suspicious websites, to which many could fall prey.

Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at the company, told The Guardian: “We have seen a dramatic rise in suspicious domains impersonating a variety of streaming giants for nefarious purposes.

“These spoof websites often lure unsuspecting members of the public in with an offer of free subscriptions to steal valuable data.”

Many Britons are now turning towards streaming services as a result of an increased amount of time spent at home. 

Recently, hundreds of people across the globe have reported receiving a WhatsApp message which offers a free Netflix subscription by clicking a link contained within.

The message stated the free offer was issued in order to entice people to stay at home and follow Government guidelines on social distancing and lockdown.

However, the streaming company later confirmed this was a potential data phishing scam which had nothing to do with their business. 

Britons have been advised to look out for subtle changes in website layout which could reveal a potential scam.

These include spelling and language errors, or differences in the website’s address which look suspicious.

Existing streaming service customers have also reported emails which ask users to update their payment information.

The scam emails claim the company is having issues with current credit card information and tells customers to update – but this is also a phishing scam. 

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Advice from website ThisisMoney also stated those who receive e-mail offers should look at the sender’s email address.

If the email was sent from a private email account, it is likely it is a scam designed to steal private information and money.

And the Twitter hashtag #FraudAwareness as promoted by building society, Nationwide, has shown many Britons are reporting a host of different scams. 

Scams related to the coronavirus outbreak have increased as lockdown measures continue.

Other scams reported include bitcoin donations, quizzes, surveys, and emails pretending to be important organisations such as HMRC or the World Health Organisation.

Age UK has offered advice on email scams and fake websites amongst other crimes, and urges internet users to use the government’s website to find particular important, legitimate websites. 

They instruct anyone who believes they have fallen victim to any scam to contact Action Fraud. 

The leading fraud prevention service in the UK, Cifas, has also warned the public to stay vigilant concerning any sort of scam – wherever it may occur. 

The organisation states the coronavirus pandemic is being used to prey on people’s fear and uncertainty.

Cifas advises those who believe they have been a victim of a scam to contact their bank or financial service provider. 

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