#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | Coronavirus scammers targeting vulnerable older people, say police | Society

Scared, vulnerable older people are being preyed on by criminals using a range of coronavirus scams to burgle, rob and potentially harm them, police and support groups have warned.

The Metropolitan police have confirmed they are investigating one scam in Barnet where leaflets were posted through the doors of elderly people offering to decontaminate their houses.

Terry, 74, a local resident who lives alone, received the leaflet through his door from a company called Corona Virus Decontamination Service and rang the mobile number. “I spoke to a man who said his name was Aiden Holmes-Reilly. He said that for £40 a room he and his business partner, Tom Kirk, would clean my house.”

Terry told his son, Edward, about the offer, who rang Holmes-Reilly to ask more questions. “I asked Aiden how they could be sure they wouldn’t bring the virus into the house with them and he was coming up with increasingly unlikely answers,” he said. “When I questioned his claim that they wear quarantine suits that they burn after every visit, he hung up on me.”

Edward reported the incident to the police, who are now investigating. “It’s terrifying,” he added. “What would these men have done if my vulnerable dad had let them into his house? At best, I suspect they would have stolen stuff, but at worst he would have been in physical danger too.”

The concerns come as police warned all members of the public to be wary of coronavirus scammers after figures revealed £970,000 has been lost to fraudsters claiming to be from the World Health Organization or HMRC.

Figures from the national police reporting centre Action Fraud on Friday revealed there have been 105 reported cases of fraud since 1 February and cases have grown more frequent in the past few days, with 38 reported from 14 to 18 March alone.

The majority of cases relate to online shopping scams, after people reported that their orders of face masks, hand sanitisers and other products never arrived.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The UN agency advises people to:

  • Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
  • Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers

Many countries are now enforcing or recommending curfews or lockdowns. 

In the UK, NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

In the Midlands this week, an elderly man was robbed of his savings after he left the bank after withdrawing money. “It may be that he was anxious about being stuck at home without cash, but he was watched as he withdrew his money and robbed of more than £2,000 when he left,” said Alison Beachim, the chief executive of Age UK Birmingham and Sandwell.

“We’ve also had a couple of incidents of tradesmen knocking on the doors of the elderly and asking for ridiculous sums to do work – in one case it was so serious that we have reported the matter to Action Fraud,” she added.

Jennifer Allott, from Age UK York, said “We have heard from elderly people who have received letters through the door and people selling shortage products on their doorsteps. There is huge potential for elderly people to be exploited. Our response is to seek to expand our existing services as rapidly as we can, particularly our home shopping service.”

In Manchester, police say fraudsters are specifically targeting older people who are self-isolating. “They knock on their doors and offer services such as a grocery shop or virus testing but then trick them into parting with their money,” said DCI Helen Critchley of Greater Manchester police’s economic crime and cyber unit.

The consumer watchdog Which? said it has seen reports from across the country of “particularly nasty scams” against older people. “One scam has the criminals offering to take their temperature – thus allowing them into the house, where residents can be robbed or worse,” a spokesperson said.

Joel Lewis from Age UK said: “Anxiety in the older age group is particularly high and those older people without the internet are most vulnerable to becoming victims.

“While we don’t want them not to seek help from the honest community volunteer groups that have sprung up around the country, we want to warn them to be cautious: don’t let anyone into your home or hand over money to people offering to do shopping,” he said.

Age Concern in Lancashire has seen such an increase in scams targeting the elderly that it is redeploying its workforce and recruiting new volunteers to provide critical services the elderly may otherwise be scammed over.

Suzanne Carr, the chief executive of Age Concern Lancashire, said: “Hundreds of community groups have sprung up to help those in self-isolation as the virus spreads across the country. Unfortunately, among this kindness there are still those that will prey on the vulnerable and those who are not properly equipped to provide home visits may be exposing older people to further unnecessary risk.”

A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said: “If people have doubts about those who are approaching them, and are concerned, we advise that they don’t engage and report serious 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.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Shqip Shqip አማርኛ አማርኛ العربية العربية English English Français Français Deutsch Deutsch Português Português Русский Русский Español Español

National Cyber Security Consulting App



[spreaker type=player resource="show_id=4560538" width="100%" height="550px" theme="light" playlist="show" playlist-continuous="true" autoplay="false" live-autoplay="false" chapters-image="true" episode-image-position="left" hide-logo="false" hide-likes="false" hide-comments="false" hide-sharing="false" hide-download="true"]
 [spreaker type=player resource="show_id=4569966" width="100%" height="350px" theme="light" playlist="show" playlist-continuous="true" autoplay="false" live-autoplay="false" chapters-image="true" episode-image-position="left" hide-logo="false" hide-likes="false" hide-comments="false" hide-sharing="false" hide-download="true"]


National Cyber Security Radio (Podcast) is now available for Alexa.  If you don't have an Alexa device, you can download the Alexa App for free for Google and Apple devices.