Alleged Covid-19 phone scam flagged up by Skye Facebook page

The scammer is reported to have asked for £500 for a Covid-19 test kit.

An alleged phone scam attempting to trick people into paying £500 for a Covid-19 test kit has been flagged up by a Skye community Facebook page.

The alleged scam was highlighted this week by the Staffin, Isle of Skye, Scotland Facebook page, and in a post sent to the Minginish Matters Facebook page.

The details of the call have been widely shared over the last few days, however, its authenticity has yet to be confirmed.

The post details a conversation that allegedly took place between a Skye resident and someone who was posing as a member of the NHS ‘track and trace service’.

What follows is a transcript of the alleged call as has appeared via the Facebook posts.

Scammer:Good morning, I’m calling from the NHS track and trace service.

According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

This means that you now need to self-isolate for seven days and take a Covid-19 test.

Skye resident: “Okay, can you tell me who that person was?’

Scammer: “‘I’m not able to tell you that. That is confidential information.

“But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours.

“So can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?’

Skye resident: “Ok (gives address).”

Scammer: “Thank you – and I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalise this and send the kit to you.”

Skye resident: “Sorry – a payment card? I thought this was all free?”

Scammer: “No – I’m afraid not. There is a one-off fee of £500 for the kit and test results.

“Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you’re ready.”

Skye resident: “No – that’s not right. This is part of the NHS so there’s NO CHARGE.”

Scammer: “I’m afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please – this is very important, and there are penalties for not complying.”

Skye resident : *Puts phone down *

While the call may prove to be apocryphal, Which Magazine this week reported that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) had identified 600,000 scam emails since the start of the pandemic, all trying to use confusion and worry around the outbreak to their advantage.

Test and Protect – NHS Scotland’s approach to controlling the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the community was rolled out across all health boards from May 28.

Under Test and Protect, contact tracers identify cases of Covid-19, contact the people they have been in close contact with, and then ask them to self-isolate for 14 days to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

The Scottish Government has published information on what people can expect when called by a contact tracer. These details are as follows:

  • Contact tracers will introduce themselves, state the reason for their call, and will always identify the call recipient by name;
  • Contact tracers will only ask for information about your movements and the people you have been in close physical proximity to;
  • Contact tracers will not ask for personal information like bank accounts, or medical records and will not offer services to you, or try to sell you anything
  • They may send a text message or email to provide links to online guidance and support.
Skye Councillor Calum Munro.

Skye Councillor Calum Munro, told the Free Press: “There has been a worrying increase in various types of scams both online or cold-calling since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

“People are obviously very worried about the Covid-19 virus and scammers can be very capable of sounding plausible and sincere.

“I would urge everyone to remember that if you are ever asked for money over the phone to end the call immediately, to tell someone about the attempted scam and to ask that person to report the scam if possible.

“I would ask people in our communities too to be aware that these scams are happening and for us all to remind people who may be vulnerable never to give out their bank or card details over the phone to an unsolicited caller.”

Everyone aged five and over who has Covid-19 symptoms of a new continuous cough, temperature, or loss or change in sense of taste or smell should go to NHS Inform online or call 0800 028 2816 to book a test.