Scammers using Coronavirus fears to con people

Thursday 26 March 2020

Scammers in Inverclyde are trying to exploit fears about the Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic to con people out of their cash.

Trading Standards officers have issued a warning about a range of scams including fake sanitisers and bogus food supplements that are claimed to stop people from catching the virus.

Councillor Michael McCormick, Convener of Inverclyde Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee, said, “It is despicable that heartless criminals are exploiting members of the public when neighbourhoods and communities are coming together to support each other.

“Scammers never miss a chance to try and part people from their money. For them the coronavirus is just another opportunity to feed on people's fears.

“Covid 19 is a virus. It is not a bacteria so anti-bacterial products don't work on it. Currently, you can't buy coronavirus testing kits. There is no vaccine available yet. If someone tries to sell you a miracle cure, the only miracle will be how fast they vanish with your cash.

“When you’re washing your hands, scientists have found that normal, household soap is better for killing the virus than almost anything else – even disinfectants and alcohol based wipes and gels. It literally causes the virus to disintegrate.

“People should also be wary of bogus charities, over-priced home cleaning services and shopping or medicine collection services.

“Scammers are nothing if not inventive. People need to see past their fears and weigh up what they are being offered against the advice from the NHS, Inverclyde Council and the Scottish Government.

“While these are new scams people still need to be wary about the ‘old favourites’. We have received a number of calls from the public about a link on Facebook for people to click to get two months free Council Tax. This is a scam.”

Councillor McCormick issued this advice, “Don’t be rushed into making a decision. Criminals try to put people under pressure so that they don’t have time to see through the scam. Always take all the time you need to think something over before parting with money or personal information.

“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t assume everyone is genuine. It’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests – at your doorstep, by phone or online. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

“If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious if someone asks you for money up front for work or services that they haven’t done yet.

“Always be suspicious of cold callers. And remember the council, your bank and your Internet provider will never call you asking you for personal information or your bank details.

“I would also urge people to report scams. They should never feel embarrassed about being a victim of a scam - they can affect anyone, no matter what age they are or how smart they are. It’s only by sharing your experience that we can prevent scammers from targeting other people in our community.

“Call Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 to report a scam. Sign up for Neighbourhood Watch Alerts to stay up to date with what is going on in your community and keep an eye on vulnerable neighbours.”

Page last updated: 26 March 2020