People warned to be wary of fraudsters trying to profit from coronavirus
PUBLISHED: 19:05 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:06 25 March 2020
People across Norfolk are being urged to watch out for criminals who are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Police and Norfolk County Council is encouraging vulnerable people to take a few simple steps to ensure they don’t fall foul of fraudsters who are attempting to profit from coronavirus.
Among the advice being issued from the authorities, including Trading Standards, is for people trust their instincts, be wary of anyone who asks for money before running an errand and to only access health information from trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk.
Chief inspector Craig Miller, said: “We have seen the communities of Norfolk coming together to help one another during this challenging time.
“However, despite the need to stay home to stay safe we know from previous experience that sadly criminals will take advantage of any opportunity for their own means and this situation has been no different.”
Chief Insp Miller urged vulnerable people to only deal with people they trusted and if they become concerned by someone approaching them to report suspicious behaviour to police.
He added: “The majority of groups are well intentioned and will be working through charities, or through a local authority and should have proof that they are doing so.”
Margaret Dewsbury, NCC cabinet member for communities and partnerships, said: “We need to look out for ourselves and each other at this difficult time.
“Despite the overwhelming kindness being shown in communities across the county there are also a few unscrupulous fraudsters who are choosing to take advantage of the pandemic for their own profit.”
NCC Councillor Steve Morphew added: “It is hard to believe that when we are all pulling together there are some reprehensible individuals trying to criminally exploit those who are trusting and vulnerable. As we help each other we must ensure the standards we set are high.
“Don’t take offence if somebody wants to check you out, do make sure you have ID and don’t do anything that could be interpreted as suspicious.”
Trading Standards advice
Trading Standards teams from across the UK have compiled a list of Covid-19 related scams and how to avoid them:
Criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact people at the door, by phone, post or online
Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
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Home cleaning services
People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.
Tips to avoid being scammed
Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts to pressurise you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of help if you are unsure.
If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.
• If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 999.