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19 Covid-related deaths as PSNI warn of new text scam offering vaccine aimed at ripping people off

It reads ‘we have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine’ and links to a convincing, but fake, NHS page which then asks for bank details

There were 19 further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Sunday).

Today’s stats – according to the official dashboard – take in the last 24 hours with 16 of the 19 passing away inside that period.

The overall total number of deaths recorded by the Department now stands at 1,850.

The ABC Borough accounts for 237 – up five – deaths; NMD 136 – up tw0; and Mid-Ulster with 162, also up two.

There were a further 426 positive cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 53 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – third highest in NI behind Belfast with 69 and Mid-Ulster with 54 – while there was a further 47 in Newry, Mourne and Down.

A total of 1,839 individuals were tested.

There are 731 people now in hospital as a result of the virus, 69 of whom are in intensive care units.

There are currently 34 ICU beds available in Northern Ireland.

A total of 194 Covid patients are currently in hospitals in the Southern Trust area – 15 more than yesterday – with 138 in Craigavon; 28 in Daisy Hill; 25 in Lurgan and three in South Tyrone.

Sunday’s figures come as police urge members of the public to be aware of a phishing text message scam circulating telling people that they are ‘eligible’ for the Covid 19 vaccination.

The scam message reads ‘we have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine’ and links to a convincing, but fake, NHS page which then asks for bank details.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “We know that fraudsters will stop at nothing to dupe people out of their money and they aim to exploit the pandemic for financial gain.

“I am urging people to remain vigilant,  fraudsters don’t care who their victim is, they know the desire people have to get the vaccine and they see this as a chance to get their hands on their money.

“Be sceptical and on your guard, If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a likely to be a scam.

“Don’t hit the link, if you are dealing with someone about a Covid 19 vaccination and they ask you for money, this is a huge red flag, hang up and stop dealing with them.

“It’s also important that if you have older members of family, talk with them and tell them legitimate providers of this vaccine will never seek their banking information. This is a really important conversation to have.”

Protect yourself by following this advice:

·       Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from numbers you don’t know.
·       Never give out your personal information, banking details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying that the caller is who they say they are.
·       Block any numbers you find suspicious.
·       Always go to a website directly, by typing out the address yourself, when logging into an account. Do not click on links.
·       Keep an eye out for spelling mistakes in messages and emails

Anyone concerned they have been a victim of a scam either report the matter to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040. Police can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101 or you can submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/

For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni . ScamwiseNI have recently issued some helpful videos which show how these type of scams can take place and the terrible impacts for the victims .

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