Fake government ‘final warning’ text messages are being sent - here’s how to spot them

Monday, 30th March 2020, 12:45 pm
Updated Monday, 30th March 2020, 12:45 pm

Fake text messages which mimic the government’s official sender ID, 'UK_Gov', have begun appearing in inboxes across the nation, falsely suggesting that the real time locations of citizens are being monitored during the lockdown.

The flurry of fake texts comes after the government’s official texts were sent out nationwide last week (Tue 24 Mar), reiterating the lockdown measures put in place by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

What do the texts say?

Mimicking the government’s official message to “stay home, save lives” and to only leave the house under certain strict conditions (such as for one form of exercise a day) the fake texts are claiming to know if an individual has left their homes too frequently during the lockdown.

The scam communications - which often contain grammatical errors - even threaten the recipient with punishments, such as fines, and claim to serve as a “final warning”.One text read, "You have left your home more than once today and was at a considerable distance from your home. As this isn't a location such as work, shopping, medical assistance, this is your final warning to comply with government guidance. Failure to do so may result in fines."

What has the government said on the matter?

In response to the texts, the government has announced on social media that it has only sent one official text message about the terms of the newly enforced lockdown, and that any others people have received are, indeed, fake.

The official message from the government sent to all mobile phone users reads, "GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT. New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info and exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives."

The government has clarified that anyone found to not comply with the new rules could be issued a fine of £30, although these would only be on-the-spot fines issued by the police, and such fines would never be implemented by text message.