Self-isolating older and vulnerable residents are at risk of being exploited by strangers and cold callers posing as helpful neighbours in order to scam them, councils up and down the country have been warning.
Fraudsters are playing on the fear created by COVID-19 and the need for the elderly and vulnerable to reduce social contact.
Councils have already seen coronavirus-related scams involving fraudsters knocking on the doors of older people asking for cash upfront in exchange for running errands; or impersonating council officers or health officials offering mandatory coronavirus testing. More elaborate scams include gaining access to savings or stealing a person’s identity.
Not only are those who are self-isolating at risk of falling victim to these fraudsters, but by letting people into their homes, unsuspecting victims are at greater risk of catching coronavirus.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Keeping the elderly and those with underlying health conditions safe is every council’s top priority, and councils will do everything in their power to prosecute fraudsters and seek the toughest penalties for criminals taking advantage in this despicable way.
“Councils have plans in place for dealing with the very challenging circumstances presented by the coronavirus outbreak. They will continue to review how best to use their staff and mobilise community resources to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable are given the support they need.”