/ Scams

Omicron variant fake PCR test emails and texts

Scammers are sending fake emails and texts about the Omicron variant of Covid in order to steal personal data and bank details. Here’s what to look out for.

01/02/2022: Fake Omicron text messages

Following the spate of Omicron related phishing emails we saw at the beginning of December, we’ve been made aware of fake text messages being sent, employing similar tactics:

The NHS does contact people via text in some cases, but would only ever ask you to order a test via the GOV.UK site (https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test). Contact tracing only takes place in England via https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk/

How to tell if a contact tracing text is real

Texts like this linking to sites that have nothing to do with the NHS can be forwarded to 7726 (spells SPAM on a phone keyboard).

Have you received this text or other fake communications relating to the Omicron variant of Covid? Let us know in the comments.

02/12/2021: Phishing emails

Another new fake email attempting to cash in on the confusion and anxiety surrounding the pandemic is doing the rounds, impersonating the NHS and offering ‘a free Omicron PCR today to avoid restrictions’. 

Which? has reported this website to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) but other scam texts, emails and calls related to Omicron are likely to follow suit.

Scammers have used similar tactics throughout the global pandemic, for example, when the vaccine first became available and when the Covid Pass was launched.

Omicron phishing email: what it looks like

Image: thanks to the Marlborough Surgery, Seaham.

Thanks to a member of the public we’ve also seen a slightly different version of the same email, in which the link instead appears as a button:

Fake NHS website

The fake email was also sent to a Which? member from ‘NHS Customer Service’ using the email address ‘contact-nhs[AT]nhscontact.com’. This email address may seem authentic, but it has nothing to do with the genuine NHS.

As well as falsely claiming that the new Covid variant (Omicron) requires new test kits, the email invites readers to visit the site shown in the above image. But clicking the link takes you to the true web address – ‘healt-service-nh.com’ – which is a copycat of the NHS website set up just days ago:

This fake site asks for your full name, date of birth, address, mobile, and email address – more than enough to attempt identity fraud.

As well as requesting a payment of £1.24 for ‘delivery’, it even invites you to provide your mother’s maiden name, as many customers use basic security questions to secure their email and bank accounts:

How to spot and report an NHS scam

Never follow the links in unsolicited texts or emails. If you get a message purporting to be from the NHS, check the details with your GP surgery or NHS service.

You can read more about what to watch out for in our guide to spotting scams. You can then report it to help others:

⚠ You can forward phishing emails to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) at report@phishing.gov.uk.

⚠ You can also report fake websites to the NSCS.

⚠ Fake texts can be forwarded to 7726 (this spells SPAM on the keyboard).

⚠ Use the Which? Scam Sharer tool and sign up for free Which? Scam Alerts.

We shared a copy of the fake email with our contacts at the NHS Counter Fraud Authority. A spokesperson said:

“The mandate of the NHS Counter Fraud Authority is to prevent fraud against the NHS budget. In pursuit of that goal, we are delighted to also support publicity campaigns that help members of the public, including health workers and patients, protect themselves from fraud too.

We applaud the efforts of Which? to fight back against the fraudsters. The same criminals will target individuals AND the NHS, especially during testing times”

What to do if you’ve been scammed

Let your bank know immediately if you’ve divulged your card or account details to scammers. Many banks let you instantly cancel your cards online or via their mobile apps so use this feature if its available.

If the scammers have stolen money, you can follow our guide to getting it back.

Keep an eye on your credit reports to spot potential identity fraud – we explain how to do this for free in our guide. You may also want to consider signing up for a Protective Registration with Cifas, which costs £25 for two years.

You should also change your passwords for any accounts that may have been compromised and set up two-factor authentication wherever possible to provide another layer of protection.

Have you received a fake email relating to the Omicron variant? Have you seen other examples posing as the NHS? Let us know in the comments.

Comments

Wife just had a text supposedly claiming she had been in contact with someone with omicron and to order a PCR test kit today by clicking the link. Please note the misspelling which was a give away without going any further. “https://fast-teskit.com” from the following number: +447519328989

Sandra Alsera says:
17 February 2022

Me too today – same text. 17/2/21

Jenny says:
17 February 2022

I too had exactly the same text this morning. Asked at GP surgery and they told me it was a scam and to delete it.

Wendy Stott says:
17 February 2022

I’ve has the same text twice today from 2 different phone numbers…I reported the first one

John Molyneux says:
18 February 2022

Had same text. only when I filled it in did I spot some clues that there was something wrong, (spelling mistakes, miss-information, and asking for postage). A quick nip to the bank to cancel my debit card, set my mind at rest.

jitendra Mandavia says:
20 February 2022

I received the scam text from 07561084260 but I didn’t realise until I checked here. I went to the site to order and put my details but stopped when I asked to make a payment. Am i exposed by entering my name address and DOB and mobile number to any kind of scam

Husband just recieved text from +447864511864 telling him he had been in contact with someone who has recently been isolating,Please order a PCR test kit from https;//pcr-self-testkit.com. if you go the link it wants your bank details to charge you a pound for delivery. And I presume take anything else they can get from your bank, Have blocked the number and deleted the message.

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Emma says:
6 March 2022

Just had the following text saying they are from test and trace, then takes you to a nhs website to order an omicron pcr, although you no longer have to book a PCR with contact and all the rules have changed.
Track and Trace: We have identified you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. You need to book a test: https://pcr-test-order.com

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Yvonne says:
6 March 2022

I received this text today looks pretty good but the the grammar 😩

Bill Watson says:
10 March 2022

I had a text yesterday and it takes you to a very authentic looking NHS website.

‘Test and Trace. You’ve been in close contact with someone who has recently bee isolating. Please order a test’.
The link is https://obtain-pcr-test.com

No spelling mistakes and very professional looking. I filled in my name, address and DOB before coming to the bit mentioning a £1.28 charge and asking for bank details. I then realised it was a scam and, of course, didn’t enter the bank stuff or send the text. Now I’m unsure about whether they have my personal details, or not.

The mobile number is xxxxxxx

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Sue Howard says:
18 March 2022

I’ve had an email from +4473550366 re Track and Trace, telling me to go to https://online-per-test.com to book a test. I’ve not followed the link as yet. Is it a scam ?

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Kathleen Steedman says:
24 March 2022

I have received a text directing me to https://omnicron.status-5.com, I stupidly clicked on the link and was taken to what looks like a genuine NHS page, with a link to book a PCR test. This went to a page that had a bizarre message some of which said – welcome to nginx – I closed this down and deleted the message. To be on the safe side I took a lateral flow test and it was negative.

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Trudi Duncan says:
27 March 2022

I received a message yesterday 26 March from +4477863064870
Contact Tracing: You have been identified as being in close contact of a confirmed case. You must book a test kit:
https://pcr-my-order.com
I thought it was a scam. I clicked link and started asking name so guessed then it was a scam.
Blocked it now

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Simon says:
27 April 2022

SPAM ,PHISHING BANK DETAILS

NHS: We identified you as a contact of someone who recently tested positive for Omicron. You must book a home test kit: https://pcr-tracing-people.com

[Moderator: this website this could be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Joanna says:
27 April 2022

Hi, had a text early this morning from 447935710621 saying from NHS and that I had been in contact with someone who has Omicron, and a link https://pcr-tracing-people.com.

I am usually so careful about not responding to anything I am not expecting but because it was so early and from NHS, so followed through with my details and even the request for postage payment.
I am now worried they have my name, address and DOB. I have put a stop on my card, but worried about them having my other details

[Moderator: this website this could be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Anne Trevorrow says:
30 April 2022

Received a text:

NHS: You’ve been in close contact with a person who has contracted the Omicron variant. Please order a test kit via: nhs.test-kit-delivery.com/nhs
Scammed! Gave address and card details before I realised!!

Henry says:
5 May 2022

I got this scam via text in the official “NHS-NoReply” number / identity in the iPhone Messages app. The website looks genuine but the website url is not a .gov or NHS site. I failed to spot that until afterwards. I had entered my name and address and email etc. Luckily I did not enter any card-details as I considered the asking for delivery payment as suspect / nonsense.

Robert says:
8 May 2022

Just received a text from 447563867687 claiming I been in close contact with a person who has tested positive with Omicron variant and asks I click on swab-tracing.com to get a PCR test … I did not click after reading this article … thankyou

Mandy says:
10 May 2022

Had a text saying I had been in close contact with a person who has contracted Omicron, and to order a test kit. Looked completely genuine as in same thread as another message about a genuine hospital appointment and looked as if it came from same source. Feel completely daft as I ‘paid for postage’ by credit card. Fortunately no payments taken but had to get card cancelled when realised

Ahh it is easily done Mandy, do let us know if anything else happens with this.

I received a 4th vaccination (Booster) last Friday, and I am currently experiencing one or two minor side effects.

“A real world study by the UK Health Security Agency found that 2 weeks after a booster dose, protection levels increased to 93.1% for those who had Astra-Zeneca for their first two doses, and 96% for those who had Pfizer.

The study also suggests that Covid-19 boosters are 70 to 75% effective at preventing illness from Omicron in the early period after vaccination.”

I have vaccine envy. I’m only 70.

I am so friendless I have never received one of these Covid contact messages. I feel so isolated and bereft knowing that everyone else is getting them. I am paying the price for not using a mobile phone.

It occurred to me I may test positive after receiving a booster vaccination. Apparently not – as the following explains:

YouTube.com – No a booster dose will not put your COVID test in jeopardy.

Don’t wish your life away Wavechange!

I’m enjoying life, Beryl. Very much.

John – Although I use my mobile frequently I am not having a problem with scam messages either. I am very wary about text messages, emails, phone calls and people calling at the door – all thanks to nuisance marketing etc. Perhaps those who have tried to sell me goods and services have helped by making me wary.

D Robinson says:
11 May 2022

Just received the following text from +447563861970

“NHS-UK Health Department: We have been notified you have been in close contact with a confirmed Omicron case. You must book a PCR test kit swab-test-trace.com”

I’ve had various communications with NHS regarding COVID and never come across the anything like web site address below. In addition I’ve never known that a PCR test kit can be purchased, where as a LFT kit can.

I’ve blocked the number and deleted the text.

Louise says:
11 May 2022

just had an email from +447563864242 claiming I had been in close contact with a confirmed omicron case, and that I must book a PCR test kit from the link swab-test-trace.com. I have reported the text.

adrian brown says:
Today 09:15

had the text today, deleted it.