Residents are being warned to watch out for unscrupulous scammers trying to take advantage of people during the coronavirus outbreak.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s trading standards team has flagged several scams recently seen in other boroughs since the virus appeared. Residents and family members, carers and friends of those who might be susceptible to scams are being urged to remain vigilant and look out for one another.
“Exploiting people who are already under stress from a global viral pandemic is despicable,” said Cllr Wesley Harcourt, H&F Cabinet Member for Environment.
“I would urge our brilliant communities to keep looking out for one another and help fight these scammers.”
Contact our trading standard team at email@example.com or call 020 8753 1081.
What are the scams?
The first reported scam was of people going door to door claiming to be from the NHS and offering to test for coronavirus.
In some cases, the scammers are reported to be selling fake testing kits and in other instances, they were believed to be doing it to gain access to peoples’ homes.
Trading standards advise that NHS staff do not come door to door to offer coronavirus testing. Always ask to see some identification before letting any strangers into your house. If you have any doubts, call the police non-emergency line 101.
Another reported scam is aimed at businesses who are applying for business support grant funding. You may be contacted by companies offering to secure the grant for you and charging an administration fee. There is no fee for applying for this grant and they should make this clear to you.
Other reported coronavirus scams include:
- ‘Phishing’ – This is where fraudsters try to get your financial details by asking you to click on a link in an email they’ve sent you. These emails are often designed to look like they’ve come from a reputable source and can be very realistic
- Bogus volunteers who offer to help with shopping for people who are socially isolating. The scammers then just take the money
- Bogus texts saying people have been fined for ignoring restrictions.
Advice from trading standards
Take the usual care to avoid being a victim of scams. Do not open links in emails from unknown sources. Only allow people you trust or know well to help with shopping, and remember trading standards do not text people with instant fines for breaching the restrictions. If in doubt, get in touch.
If you suspect you, or someone you know has been the victim of a coronavirus-related scam, contact our trading standards team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 020 8753 1081.
Read more about about potential scams and how to protect yourself during the outbreak.
Want to read more news stories like this? Subscribe to our weekly e-news bulletin.