Scammers are never slow to use world events to try to deceive us and the Brexit result in the EU referendum is no exception to that rule.
The latest con sees an email arrive in your inbox with some variation on the subject line: ‘Brexit causes historic market drop’.
Open the email and inside there are links supposedly taking you to articles that explain the market turmoil and how you can avoid it.
Instead, your computer is infected with malware that criminals can use to spy on your internet activity and steal your personal and financial data.
“We have certainly noted an increase in the use of Brexit-related topics in email to encourage users to click on content since last Friday’s referendum,” James Chappell, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows, told the Telegraph.
Personalised scam mails
If you receive a Brexit-related email you should be extra cautious, according to Chappell.
“Do not open attachments or links, and delete these types of emails straight away.”
It is possible criminals will even personalise that Brexit email for you.
It’s difficult to know how most people voted, but a search of social media could give con artists clues that make their emails sound more plausible.
“Since the referendum results, Symantec’s threat intelligence researchers have identified a 392% increase in spam emails that use Brexit in the subject line to target people and organisations,” a spokesperson for digital security firm Symantec, told the BBC.
Symantec blocked 399,892 emails between June 24 and July 5, up from 81,323 between June 9 and June 23.
How to protect yourself from phishing scams
1. Be alert. Watch out for emails that at first glance may seem genuine but when you look closer contain poor English, bad grammar and don’t address you correctly. Scam emails often originate outside of the UK and English isn’t the first language of the authors.
2. Don’t click. Phishing emails work by tricking you into either downloading malicious software onto your computer or visiting a fake website and typing in personal details about yourself. Avoid this by never clicking on a link in a suspicious email. Instead use a search engine to find the website you need instead.
3. Keep up-to-date. Protect yourself by keeping your anti-virus and internet security software up-to-date. These should detect malware on your computer and many also alert you to fake websites helping you avoid the scams.