The picture that shows what a coronavirus scam looks like

Will Taylor
News Reporter
The scam email seems to be playing on people's fears about coronavirus. (PA Images)

A coronavirus scam email has led HMRC to warn against giving personal details or clicking links in messages apparently sent from the department.

The badly-worded email says the government has announced a “new tax refund programme” to deal with the outbreak.

“You are eligible to get a tax refund (rebate) of 128.34 GBP,” it adds.

HMRC has told Yahoo News UK that recipients should use caution when being apparently contacted by HMRC and provided a safety checklist.

The coronavirus scam email.

A spokeswoman said: “We know that scammers use events that are in the news as a hook to offer spurious tax refunds.

“They use a range of techniques, including emailing or phoning taxpayers and offering a bogus tax refund, or threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay tax owed.

“These scams often target the elderly and vulnerable. We are a well-known brand, which criminals abuse to add credibility to their scams.

“If someone emails or calls you claiming to be from HMRC saying that you are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a scam.”

It is the latest in a line of coronavirus-related scams as criminals attempt to play on people’s fears about the illness.

The World Health Organisation issued guidance over fake emails and North Yorkshire Police has also warned about coronavirus-related phishing attempts.

A checklist sent by HMRC says a genuine message from the department would not contact someone out of the blue asking for bank details or passwords, and that suspicious emails can be forwarded to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk.

Information is available on gov.uk to avoid and report scams.