Councils in Wales are urging residents to be vigilant amidst a reported rise in COVID-19 related scams.
Self-isolating elderly and vulnerable people in particular are at risk of being exploited by con artists claiming to offer help or support. Some residents have been targeted on the doorstep by bogus offers to help with grocery shopping, while other more elaborate schemes have been reported, including:
- Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips.
- Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments, which put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details at risk.
- Counterfeit sanitisers, face masks and COVID-19 swabbing kits, which are often dangerous and unsafe, sold online and door-to-door.
There have also been reports of cold calling scams and loan sharks preying on the increase in financial insecurity.
Councillor Matthew Dorrance (Powys), WLGA Spokesperson for Community Safety said:
“At a time when so many of our residents are already alone, anxious and afraid, it is sickening to see unscrupulous individuals preying on the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“Plans are in place by councils and partners to help those in need of additional support in this difficult period. Residents are advised to remain vigilant, and to speak to trusted friends or family before responding. We would encourage residents to report any suspicious activity to their local authority, the Police, or Action Fraud.”
Councillor Dafydd Meurig (Gwynedd), WLGA Spokesperson for Regulatory Services said:
“Keeping people safe and well is our absolute priority, and Trading Standards teams and the Police are working closely in partnership to protect the public from being exposed to such unscrupulous behaviour.
“Councils are fully committed to do everything they can, and use all powers available to them, to ensure that the criminals responsible face the toughest possible penalties.”
For more information and advice, please visit your local council website.
Members of the public who have been targeted by a scam can report this to Action Fraud online at www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by calling 0300 123 2040.
For advice and information on how to check if something might be a scam, people can contact Citizens Advice online: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/scams/check-if-something-might-be-a-scam/.