FRAUDSTERS exploiting the Covid lockdown have targeted over 1,000 people in Staffordshire.
Since March 1,100 people have been scammed across the County, resulting a combined total of more than £22,000 lost, an average of £2,000 each.
As part of Scams Awareness Month, we are raising awareness of the latest scams and how to protect yourself.
The majority of reports to Action Fraud are related to online shopping where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, Covid-19 testing kits, and other products, which have never arrived. In a lot of cases, if they have arrived, they have been sub-standard.
Other frequently reported scams include where suspects advertise vehicles or puppies for sale and use the outbreak as a reason the victim can’t come to see the vehicle/puppy. The suspects persuade the victim to make a payment in advance and the car/puppy are never provided. There have been reports of spoofed PayPal links in these cases.
Action Fraud are also seeing a large number of fake TV Licensing emails where there have been minor changes to the messaging and links, with some including a COVID-19 related hook. The emails now being reported claim that the recipient’s direct debit has failed and that they need to pay in order to avoid prosecution. These emails display the subject header “We couldn't process the latest payment from your Debit Card - COVID19 Personalized Offer: You are be eligible for a 1 x 6 months of free TV Licence”.
Detective Inspector Kerry Skingle, of the force’s Fraud and Financial Investigation Department, said: “Criminals will use every opportunity they can to defraud innocent people. They will continue to exploit every angle of this national crisis. We want people to be aware of the very simple steps they can take to protect themselves from handing over their money, or personal details, to criminals.
“If you’re approached unexpectedly remember to stop – take a moment to think before parting with your money or information that could keep you safe, challenge – could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
“Protect – if you think you’ve fallen for a scam, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud via actionfraud.police.uk