HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is investigating 10,428 reports of phishing scams designed to exploit the coronavirus pandemic.

A Freedom of Information request by Lanop Accountancy to HMRC found scams peaked in May after rising 337 per cent from 133 in March to 5,152 in May.

They subsequently fell as lockdown measures began to ease, with 2,558 incidents reported to the tax authority in June, involving email, SMS, social media, and phone scams.

Meanwhile a total of 106 Covid-related websites had been requested for removal by the tax authority since March.

April saw 42 such requests made by HMRC to Internet Service Providers, followed by 24 in May and 17 in March.

Chris Ross, senior vice-president at cyber security firm Barracuda Networks, said: “With HMRC offering a range of financial support packages for businesses and individuals during the pandemic, it’s no surprise that hackers have chosen to exploit the crisis in an effort to cash in on Covid-19.

“These scams are often cleverly designed with official branding, are incredibly realistic, coaxing unsuspecting victims to hand over confidential information such as bank account details, usernames and passwords.”

Last month, the Work and Pensions committee launched an inquiry into pension scams, following a spike, as part of broader work looking into the impact of pension freedoms.

The coronavirus pandemic and ongoing financial hardship as a result of lockdown has provided an extra opportunity for fraudsters to target vulnerable savers and those looking to their pensions for additional financial support.