Warning as fraudsters take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak

Nottingham City Council has today warned residents not to fall victim to scams during the coronavirus outbreak.

Members of the public are being urged to remain vigilant – and try to support elderly and vulnerable family members and neighbours – when dealing with doorstep callers, unsolicited phone calls and emails.

No official organisation will contact residents out of the blue and ask for payment for information, or access to a cure which doesn’t exist.

Nottingham City Council’s Trading Standards department is currently hearing national reports of emails and phone calls requesting money to support those in need, promising miracle cures, and door-to-door campaigns offering testing.

People have also had a knock on the door from con artists falsely claiming to be from the Red Cross.

Some fraudsters are offering to do shopping for residents, taking cash and not coming back with the products. Others have offered to take a shopping list alongside a bank card. This is considered theft and should be reported to the police.

To avoid falling victim to a scam of this nature:

  • Only deal with those you know – family members, trusted friends and neighbours
  • Just buy the basics – that way only a small amount of money is needed and never hand over a bank card
  • If a person claims they are from a community group, ask for documentation or check their identity by calling the organisation directly, not the number on the card

Con artists are additionally sending out ‘phishing’ emails on coronavirus that try to trick people into opening malicious attachments or disclosing confidential information about themselves, such as personal and financial data.

Some of these claim to be from organisations associated with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). There have also been several variants of existing scams including bogus emails that claim to be from HMRC offering a coronavirus tax refund.

Please watch out for any suspicious emails and do not click on the links or attachments, and do not respond to any unsolicited messages or calls demanding personal or financial information.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre at Nottingham City Council, said: “We’ve been massively heartened in Nottingham by the community response to the coronavirus outbreak and we still need everyone to continue working together to help us all get through it.

“Only today, the fantastic Robin Hood Fund has launched to help the most vulnerable in our city, and it’s humbling to see people showing this charitable spirit and altruism at what is such a difficult, worrying and unprecedented time.

“However, it’s terrible that a very small group of people across the country are trying to use this global emergency to trick the very vulnerable people we should be protecting out of their money and possessions. This is deplorable and we don’t want anyone in Nottingham to fall victim.

“Nobody will be ringing you or knocking on your door at the moment from charities or international organisations. Don’t be tempted to hand anything over to anyone and seek help instead from family, friends and neighbours.

“We have a dedicated web page for local advice on coronavirus and council services, which can be found here.”

You can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service for general advice on 0808 223 11 33.

If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to Action Fraud via their website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/, or by calling on 0300 123 2040.

Anyone concerned about coronavirus can visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Share this post!