Met urges public vigilance around coronavirus-related scams
Date: Friday 20 March 2020
Author: Superintendent Lis Chapple
The Met is warning the public to be vigilant to a number of scams being perpetrated by criminals looking to cash in on people’s fears about coronavirus.
The majority of incidents reported relate to online shopping scams where members of the public have ordered and paid for personal protective equipment, which has then never arrived.
Since the government has advised people to avoid unnecessary travel and stay at home where possible, we have received a small number of reports where people are using coronavirus as a guise to gain entry to homes and steal.
If you get an unsolicited home visit from anyone offering a service and asking for payment or to be let into your home, our advice is to immediately request and check their ID and credentials carefully.
If you are not convinced or you still have suspicions, shut the door and report the matter to police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.
If you are contacted by someone you don’t know, online or in person, and are being pressured to buy something you feel unsure about, take a moment to assess the situation and talk to someone you trust before committing.
People and businesses are also more vulnerable to being a victim of cyber fraud, as they use the internet more to shop and communicate with friends and family.
There have also been reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails being sent. These attempt to trick members of the public into opening attachments which could enable fraudsters to steal personal information, passwords and banking details.
Emails sent by fraudsters are often sophisticated and look like genuine emails from banks and other websites you might use regularly, so please be alert to this.
If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on the links or attachments, and never respond to unsolicited messages or calls with personal or financial details.
Superintendent Lis Chapple, the Met’s lead for Crime Prevention, Inclusion and Engagement, said:
"We are seeing communities across London rallying together to help each other through this unprecedented public health crisis, and what is a difficult time for many.
"However, there are a small number of unscrupulous people out there who see it as an opportunity to con others for personal gain.
"The most vulnerable in society are often targeted which makes the offending all the more despicable, and the Met is committed to identifying these people and ensuring they are held to account for their actions.
"Please take a moment to think about who you are speaking to, what you are agreeing to and what you may be clicking on online. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
For more crime prevention advice, visit the Met website.
Up to: Partner Comment Spot 2020
Updated: 24 March 2021