Remain vigilant: coronavirus fraudsters targeting elderly and vulnerable

It has become clear that unfortunately there are some individuals and crime groups looking to exploit elderly and vulnerable people in these challenging times in terms of fraud either by phone, email or in door-to-door visits.

Please see the below report for your information:

Remain vigilant following an incident where people claimed to be police officers. Three people had knocked on the door of a property at around 7.45pm on Thursday 19 March (Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire) and refused to show identification when asked by the resident. It has been reported that those at the door said they were there investigating Coronavirus related matters.

This was a scam and thankfully the resident, aged in his 70’s, did not let them inside the property due to the unusual circumstances and their lack of willingness to show identification.
When refused entry the trio, two white men and a white woman, left. Their intentions are not known but this appears to be an attempt at a door step scam.

West Mercia Police – Detective Inspector Emma Wright said: “Being a good neighbour is important, and communities are rallying around to support each other. However, there may be those who seek to exploit the situation also.

“Volunteers working with the health and emergency services will have undertaken necessary vetting checks and they should all have documentation proving their status.

“Community volunteering to provide assistance to those most vulnerable in meeting their daily needs will also be likely in the coming months. If people have doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don’t engage and report serious suspicious behaviour to police. 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.

“Whilst we are aware some may be unable to regularly get to the bank due to self-isolation, we would remind people of good crime prevention practices and would advise against keeping large amounts of cash at your home address. Only keep what you need at home and try to set up direct debits, standing orders or use on-line/telephone banking to pay larger bills.

“It is also important that people protect themselves from online fraud. Watch out for scam messages: don’t click on the links or attachments in suspicious emails, and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details. Remember, that the police or your bank will never call you and ask you to transfer funds or to hand over cash/valuables to a courier – any such calls are a scam.

“As many of us turn more to shopping online, if you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know and trust, carry out some research first, and ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.

“As well as looking out for those who are vulnerable in terms of their care and shopping needs, please look out for your friends, neighbours and family, by ensuring they are aware of this advice and that they continue to show vigilance at the door, online and via the telephone.”

There is additional information and updates regarding fraud on the Action Fraud website.

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