Elderly resident targeted by coronavirus scammers

Elderly resident targeted by coronavirus scammers

Published by Beth Pridding
7:30am 24th March 2020.

Police are warning scammers are ready to 'take advantage' of the coronavirus outbreak, after an elderly person in North Norfolk was almost conned out of more than £500. 

The resident received a call from someone claiming he was from 'Southern Electric'. The caller said they would visit their home at midday and in return for a cash payment of £520, a credit of £5,000 would be put onto their electricity bill 'as part of us helping people through the coronavirus outbreak'. 

When the victim visited the bank to withdraw the money, bank staff stopped the withdrawal. 

Chief Inspector Craig Miller said:

"It's great that communities across Norfolk are coming together to help one another during these unprecedented times. However, we sadly know from previous experience that criminals will take advantage of any opportunity for their own means and this situation is no different. 
  
"Scams are likely to come in many different forms, from those pretending to be police officers or working for healthcare organisations calling on people to say they are testing for the virus to those fraudulently sell face masks, or offer to do shopping and taking money. 
  
"We would urge resident, particularly those who are vulnerable, to only deal with people they trust and that if anyone has any doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don't engage and report 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." 

It's not only the police working to fight scammers, as the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards Team are urging people to sign up to scam alerts to find out more about the latest scams across the county. 

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, said: 

 "It's shameful that unscrupulous fraudsters are trying to take advantage of the pandemic to make money. Particularly when so many people are volunteering to help support and protect their friends and neighbours. 
  
"Something we can all do is complete the quick and simple Friends Against Scams training online. This allows everyone to better understand and spot scams, and recognise when people are being scammed in our community. Visit www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/elearning/Norfolk and make yourself scam aware." 

The following advice has been issued to vulnerable people to prevent them falling victim to scammers: 

  • Only accept help off people you know and trust. Never deal with unexpected cold callers. 
  • Do not give your credit or debit card details - give cash and ask for a receipt. 
  • Give them a shopping list in your budget.
  • You do not have to agree with anything you don't feel comfortable with.
  • Police, health workers and others would not call at your house to test for coronavirus or ask for money regarding investigations. 
  • Check the person calling at your door has valid identification, especially if they are dressed in uniform.
  • Do not transfer any money across to someone who calls you over the phone, banks will not ask for your personal security details. 
  • Do not trust anyone asking for money transfers or cash over the phone. 
  • Do not make shopping purchases from a company or person you do not know and trust. Use a credit card to pay to protect yourselves.

Anyone who received a call, email or visit, they think could be from a scammer is asked to report it to Norfolk police on 101, or Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040.  

You can also report scams and suspicious telephone cold calls to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133.