Scammers target Northamptonshire couple with fake coronavirus tests

Police issue urgent warning as tricksters use Covid-19 crisis to rake in £1m from victims
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Police have issued an urgent warning about scammers cashing on on the coronavirus crisis after a Northamptonshire couple were targeted by cold callers.

The elderly couple were offered Covid-19 testing kits and asked or their credit card details to pay.

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More scams include online deals for hand sanitiser and protective masks never arrive and fake websites asking frightened and vulnerable people to pay for advice.

Around £1million has already been fleeced from victims nationwide.

Chief Inspector Peter Basham, who is leading Northamptonshire Police's community response to the Covid-19 crisis, said: “It is very sad that at a time when we should all be pulling together as a community, there are still those who are seeking to exploit the situation and attempt to scam the most vulnerable members of our society.

“I would like to stress that the Force, nor any other agency, is offering Coronavirus home-testing. If these were available, legitimate businesses would not be selling them door-to-door.

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“Under no circumstances should you ever give out your personal or bank details to anyone, and if you’re approached by someone offering services or selling goods on your doorstep, please report it to the police.

Scammers targeted a Northamptonshire couple using fake test kitsScammers targeted a Northamptonshire couple using fake test kits
Scammers targeted a Northamptonshire couple using fake test kits

“We are also asking anyone who has contact with either an elderly or vulnerable person to please pass on this gentle crime prevention reminder to help prevent them from becoming a victim of doorstep crime.

“Such crimes can often have a much more devastating effect on their victims than just the loss of money, making a person, especially the elderly, feel exceptionally vulnerable and unsafe in their own homes.

“Being a good neighbour is still important, and communities are rallying around to support each other. However, there may be those who seek to exploit the situation also.

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“So the message we want people to make their elderly relatives aware of is simple – if you’re not sure, don’t open the door.”

Figures released by the police's Action Fraud task force revealed total losses from coronavirus-related scams reached an eye-watering £970,000 in just five weeks after the first case was reported on February 9.

And the numbers are rising rapidly as the virus grips the UK with reports of fraud relating to ticket refunds, dating sites, charities and loans.

There has also been a spike in the numbers of fake emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments which could lead to fraudsters stealing people’s personal information and bank details.

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Top of that list is mail claiming to be from a World Health Organisation research offering advice for which the victim needs to either click on a fake link which directs them to a credential-stealing page or make a donation of support in the form of an online payment.