Central Bedfordshire Council is urging people to be vigilant after a new trend in fraud relating to the coronavirus has emerged.
Teaming up with Action Fraud it has revealed how victim losses are running at almost £970,000 so far.
The first report of fraud was received in February and the number of reports received is increasing by the day.
The majority of reports are related to online shopping scams, where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived.
Other frauds being reported include ticket fraud, romance fraud, bogus charities and loan lender fraud.
Action Fraud has also received more than 200 reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails. These attempt to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing personal information, email logins and passwords, and financial details.
Some of the tactics being used in phishing emails include:
*Fraudsters claiming to be from a research group that mimic the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area but to access this information the victim needs to either: click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page; or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account
*Fraudsters providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates
*Fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website to harvest their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing.
The advice is think twice before providing any personal information and handing over your money or bank account details.
If you suspect something maybe a scam, call 0808 223 1133. If you feel you have lost money following a fraud, contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.