MORE than 11 million people in the UK are thought to have been targeted by a coronavirus-related scam, according to reports.

Some 22% of people surveyed by Aviva have had had emails, texts, phone calls or other contact mentioning Covid-19 which they believe to be fraudulent.

Suspect communications have related to products including health, life and car insurance, investments, pensions and annuities.

Customers may be told by a cold caller claiming to be from a legitimate company that “it’s time to review your policy”.

They may offer lower insurance premiums or unrealistically high rates of return on investments.

Who was most at risk?

The research found that one in 12 (8%) of those surveyed have been the victim of a financial scam which related to coronavirus.

Accountants and people working in IT or customer services, as well as admin workers and teachers, were particularly likely to say they had been scammed.

Four in 10 (41%) scam victims said it had negatively affected their mental health.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed for Aviva.

Here are the top five professions most likely to have fallen victim to a scam:

  1. Accountants
  2. IT workers
  3. Customer service workers
  4. Admin workers
  5. Teachers

Glasgow Times:

What can I do?

Nearly half (46%) of those who received a communication that they suspected to be a financial scam said they did not report it.

The most common reason given was they did not know who to report it to.

Suspected scams can be reported to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre.

People should also tell their bank or other financial services firm if they believe they might have been scammed.

Aviva also has a fraud information and reporting service on its website here.

What do the experts say?

Peter Hazlewood, group financial crime risk director at Aviva, said: “Fraudsters are exploiting the pandemic to take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable. They are using coronavirus as a pretext to lure potential victims.

“The scams range from attempts to sell people unsuitable insurance to, at worst, stealing their entire retirement savings.

“The impact on victims is not just financial either, it has a detrimental effect on people’s mental wellbeing too.”

Mr Hazlewood said: “You might think people who have a professional qualification, like accountants, and those working within IT would be more resilient to scams.

“However, becoming a victim of fraud can happen to anyone. People often feel embarrassed to admit they have fallen for a scam but there is no shame in it – these fraudsters are surprisingly professional and convincing.”

How much has been lost to virus scams?

In June, Action Fraud reported £5 million had been lost to fraud since February.

Aviva said that if only a fraction of people are reporting suspect communications, this could be the tip of the iceberg.