'IF in doubt, don't click' is the message from an Oxford MP as scam emails related to the coronavirus outbreak have started circulating.

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds has been warning about fraudulent emails claiming to be from government departments or agencies.

She has been contacted by the Oxford Job Centre and other groups with warnings that scams, fraudulent emails and websites have been trying to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus cancels nurses retirement party after 35 years with NHS

Some of them have included emails and text messages pretending to be from government departments, including links claiming to be government business support or universal credit, which encourage visitors to give over their card details.

Oxford Mail:

Anneliese Dodds MP. Picture: UK Parliament.

Hallmarks of the scam email and texts have included bad grammar and spelling mistakes.

The fraudsters have tried to use realistic sounding domain names, though unlike real government websites these addresses do not end in '.gov.uk' and often include have misspelled words.

But some of the websites look convincingly similar to official ones, and some text message scams have managed to 'spoof' numbers - so it appears like it is coming from a different number or location.

Fraudulent messages and emails may also have a particularly urgent tone, but will not address the person they are sent to by name.

Labour MP Ms Dodds said: "I am very concerned to hear about new emails and texts, designed to take advantage of the insecurity people are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I would urge everyone to be very careful with any unexpected correspondence, and if in doubt, don't click."

ALSO READ: Doctor kicked out over coronavirus 'overwhelmed' by offers of help

Examples which have been sent to Ms Dodds team have included a text message which showed up on the recipient's phones as from UKGOV.

It claimed they had been out of their house more than the legal limit, and therefore owed a fine of £35, asking the recipient to enter their bank details at a link.

And a website which claimed to be for ‘COVID-19 relief’ had the word ‘relief’ misspelled, and it was not possible to click on the links elsewhere on the page.

Oxford Mail:


It asked visitors to the site to immediately enter their card details.

The domain name started ‘uk-covid-relieve’ but ended in '.com'.

Government websites or emails to end in '.gov.uk'.

Fraudulent websites can be reported to Action Fraud, a service run by the police.

More details about it can be found at the website actionfraud.police.uk

Oxfordshire County Council has also warned about coronavirus related scams .

The council's trading standards team said it had received reports of fraudulent schemes involving miracle coronavirus cures, people impersonating healthcare workers and emails council tax or utility bills refunds.