Police warning over coronavirus scams

Police have warned against criminals using coronavirus fears to con the public with a series of scams.

A senior officer says these include sending bogus texts demanding fines from people for leaving their homes, selling facemasks which never arrive or are of poor quality or fake and telling web users that their device is ‘infected’ and asking them to call a phone number for help.

Another scam text asks people to share personal details, while rogue traders are offering anti-bacterial spray for private and commercial driveways.

Nationwide there have been 105 coronavirus-related crime reports since February 9, with losses totalling nearly £1million. Many more such crimes are thought to be unreported.

Criminals are using coronavirus to con the public. Scams include fake texts and bogus websites.

Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson heads the North East Regional Special Operations Unit, which investigates serious and organised crime under the banner of Operation Sentinel.

“Nationally there have been reports of online shopping scams including websites claiming to sell medical supplies, as well as bogus campaigns exploiting people’s fear of Covid-19.

“We’ve also seen phishing emails attempting to get donations which they say will help fund research for a cure, as well as salary reimbursement emails purporting to be from the Government. They are relentless and persistent in their approach.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Simpson heads the North East Regional Special Operations Unit, which investigates serious and organised crime under the banner of Operation Sentinel.

“These fraudsters know people are frightened and are hoping to catch them when their guard is down; so don’t let them succeed.”

The police advise: don’t click on links or attachments contained in emails or text messages.

Don’t give out personal or financial information.

Only buy from reputable websites, using a credit card where possible as it gives extra insurance.

Police say almost £1million has been scammed out of the public by criminals playing on coronavirus fears.

Challenge any cold-callers and never give out your personal information.

DCS Simpson continued: “If in doubt, just stop and take a pause before you click send. It’s absolutely fine to refuse, challenge or ignore any requests to send money or information.

“Remember, it’s only criminals who will try and rush you and cause panic. Your bank and the police will never ask you to send them money, or move it into a ‘safe’ account.

He added: “Don’t let your guard down, don’t let them succeed.”