Trying to benefit from public fear amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, fraudsters in the UK are making and selling useless masks, fake COVID-19 testing kits and scamming school meals, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).
The LGA revealed that local authorities have reported a 40 percent jump in complaints about fake items and other coronavirus-related scams since early March. Ealing Council has reported of a case regarding the manufacture of 500,000 substandard face masks and 2,600 illegal hand sanitizers, while Havering Council is investigating a car repair garage allegedly selling fake COVID-19 testing kits.
Fake cold-telephone calls are made in order to deceive people with false ways to claim "school meals", "government grants" or help with shopping.
Pensioners must remain alert of goods-related scam schemes, LGA warned, as fraudsters in Swindon Council pretend to be sorting lockdown food parcels via telephone calls in order to obtain bank details.
“People need to be cautious. If something doesn’t seem right or sounds too good to be true, don’t hesitate to end a phone call, bin a letter, delete an email or shut the door", the chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, Simon Blackburn, said.
Blackburn noted that victims of a scam report the crime to prevent others from falling for the same tricks, as well as helping councils to track and arrest criminals. The recommendations are to stay vigilant when self-isolating and only buy goods from well-known and trusted retailers.
The latest LGA figures claim 220 online scams stopped by the National Cyber Security Centre after receiving over 12,000 reports of suspect emails following the 21 April launch of a service allowing the public to report suspicious COVID-19-related emails that offer "coronavirus-related services".