International law enforcement agencies are encouraging the public to be more vigilant as scammers and fraudsters take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to prey on consumers worldwide.

United Kingdom’s National Fraud & Cybercrime Reporting Centre reported that the coronavirus-related frauds have increased by 400% in the month of March alone.

Majority of these involved online shopping scams wherein people’s orders of masks, sanitizers and other safety products have never arrived. There were also reported cases of phishing emails where individuals were required to share their financial and personal information.

According to the authorities, criminals capitalized on the COVID-19 pandemic to commit different types of frauds like the lender loan fraud, mandate fraud, computer software fraud, and investment and pension fraud, among others.

 “To take advantage of vulnerable people at this difficult time is particularly reprehensible…The government is committed to working with the NCA (National Crime Agency) and all law enforcement partners to tackle this and protect the public,” said UK’s Security Minister James Brokenshire.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission has intensified anti-fraud campaigns by disseminating examples of spam calls that have circulated for the past weeks.

“If you want to receive a free testing kit delivered overnight to your home, press 1…Protect your loved ones from the coronavirus,” a voice on one of the calls says.

The website, CornavirusMedicalKit.com, was recently shut by a federal court for it allegedly offered visitors a coronavirus vaccine kit with a cheap shipping fee of only $4.95.

US officials are strictly enforcing fraud prevention measures and have threatened of corresponding legal actions.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization also warned of the increasing number of attackers who use “multiple impersonation approaches” and pose as their officials in efforts to swindle.

“Always take time to think about a request for your personal information, and whether the request is appropriate,” WHO said in a statement.

The agency said it has coordinated with local authorities to debunk false claims and has also created an official website aimed at helping the public to evade frauds and scams amid the global health crisis.

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