As communities come together to support one another during the coronavirus outbreak, police are urging people to be vigilant to scammers and bogus officials.
It comes after cold-callers targeted an elderly North Norfolk resident who was telephoned by someone claiming he was calling from ‘Southern Electric’. The caller stated that they would visit the resident’s home at midday and in exchange for a cash payment of £520 a credit of £5,000 would be put onto the resident’s electricity bill ‘as part of us helping people though the Coronavirus outbreak’. When the resident visited the bank to withdraw the money bank staff prevented the withdrawal.
Residents are urged to be vigilant and take the normal precautions when dealing with cold-callers.
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.”
Alongside the work of the police the Norfolk County Council Trading Standards team are continuing to fight scammers and are urging people to sign up to scam alerts to find out about the latest scams hitting the county. To sign up visit: www.norfolk.gov.uk/tsalerts
Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Norfolk County Council 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/Norfolkand make yourself scam aware.”
Vulnerable people will be most at risk so we ask that people protect themselves and relatives and neighbours who could become victims.
- 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 to 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.
If you feel in immediate danger call 999 or if you know someone is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please contact Norfolk Police on 101 or Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.
You can report scams and suspicious telephone cold calls to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on freephone 0808 223 1133.