Businesses warned of Covid scams claiming to offer financial support

Struggling business owners are being targeted by scammers during the pandemic. Credit: PA Images

Business owners in Wales are urged to be wary of online scams claiming to offer financial support during the latest coronavirus lockdown.

Scammers often present themselves as known organisations, such as banks or HM Revenue & Customs, to appear convincing.

The pandemic has given fraudsters extra opportunity to target people and small businesses struggling financially.

One scam currently in circulation claims to be from the HMRC Government Gateway and says it is offering grants of up to £7,500 for businesses forced to close their doors.

Such scams will often encourage the victim to hand over their bank details in order to receive the promised rebate or grant - which does not exist.

Police are once again warning business owners to stay vigilant and stay safe online during lockdown.

DC Gareth Jordan, of Dyfed Powys Police, said: “It is very easy to fall victim - the scammers have tried-and-tested methods to trick people into handing over their details.

“Please, just take the time to think it through. It may look genuine, but if you look a little closer there are clues to show it is not.”

There are often subtle clues that scam emails or texts are not genuine, such as poor spelling and grammar. Credit: PA Images

The force’s fraud prevention team has pulled together some top tips to help people avoid getting caught out by scammers, including clues that something isn't right.

  • Spelling and grammar

Often, the spelling and grammar in scam messages is not correct. This is a sign that the message is not from a trusted organisation.

  •  Hyperlinks

Look closely at the website or link you are being asked to click on. Often, if you hover your cursor over it, the web address is something obscure and not related to the organisation it is purporting to be from.

If you are suspicious, never just click on the hyperlink. Instead, go directly to the organisation's main website - for example, www.gov.uk - and you will know you are on the official page.

  • No sign-in

Official sites like Government Gateway would require you to log into your account, whereas scam sites simply ask you to input details.

You can also test the authenticity of the site by inputting false details, such as a date of birth - for example, 31/02/1972. Any reputable site would not allow this as there aren't 31 days in February.

  • Card details – ask yourself why they need them

Scammers often ask for full card details, including your name, the long card number, expiry date and the three-digit CVV code from the signature panel on the back. They might also ask for your mother’s maiden name, your bank account number and sort code.

DC Jordan says that if you were to fill out these details, you would be giving the criminals all the information they need to start taking over your online life.

“We deal with so many people who have been conned into handing over thousands of pounds online,” said DC Jordan.

“Please take care. Don’t get caught out this Christmas.”


  • If you think you have received a scam email or text:

Stop: Take a moment to think before parting with your money or information - it could keep you safe.Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to the police.Report: You can report suspicious emails to: report@phishing.gov.uk (forward the suspicious email to this address). You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.