City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group are urging local people to remain vigilant following a rise in coronavirus-related scams. Criminals are using fears about COVID-19 to target members of the public, particularly older and vulnerable people.
COVID-19 scams involve door stepping by false healthcare workers claiming to be offering 'home-testing' for the COVID-19 Coronavirus and cold-calling from criminals who claim to represent charities who are offering to go to the shops for vulnerable people.
Local people are encouraged to protect themselves and their neighbours by joining Friends Against Scams. Friends Against Scams offer free online training to empower people to take a stand against scams. You can access their online modules at https://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/.
For advice on how to check if something is a scam please visit the Citizen’s Advice website at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/.
You can report scams to Action Fraud online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or call 0300 123 2040.
The scopes of these crimes are summarised below:
- As more people self-isolate at home there is a risk that telephone scams will rise. These include criminals claiming to be your bank, mortgage lender or utility company.
- Criminals targeting older people on their doorstep and offering to do their shopping. Thieves take the money and do not return.
- Doorstep cleansing services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.
- Thieves extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.
- Illegal money lenders are expected to prey on people’s financial hardship, lending money before charging extortionate interest rates and fees through threats and violence.
- Email scams that trick people into opening attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk. Some of these emails will lure people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by coronavirus.
- Fake online resources – such as false Coronavirus Maps that deliver malware; an information-stealing programme which can infiltrate a variety of sensitive data. An example of a site that has deployed malware is ‘corona-virus-map[dot]com’.
- Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.
- Fake sanitisers, face masks and COVID-19 swabbing kits sold online and door-to-door. These products can often be dangerous and unsafe. There are reports of some potentially harmful hand sanitiser containing glutaral (or glutaraldehyde), which was banned for human use in 2014.