Callous criminals are exoploiting the coronavirus pandemic to con worried people out of cash, Police Scotland have warned.

The force revealed they have seen around a 10% increase in fraud-related crime since March 24, with evidence suggesting to them thugs are using the virus to line their pockets.

They're urging the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour, with criminals using social media platforms like WhatsApp to offer advice and even treatment for the virus. 

Members of the public and organisations are also being targeted by emails, texts and telephone calls.

A spokesman from Police Scotland said: "They are setting up fake websites selling products and offering ‘cures’ or testing kits.

"Scammers have also been setting up bogus websites asking for donations for victims or promoting awareness and prevention tips.

"Cold callers have been contacting organisations suggesting they must have specific measures in place by a certain deadline."

Detective Superintendent Kenny Armstrong, of Ayrshire CID, is urging local communities to be vigilant following reports of fraud-related crime in the region. 

He said: “We want to make sure the people of Ayrshire are kept safe and informed. Please do not feel embarrassed if you think you have been the victim of fraud. I would encourage you to report the matter to police as soon as it happens so that we can investigate promptly.

“I would also ask you to look out for other members of your community during these challenging times. Please speak to elderly or vulnerable family and friends to advise them of these types of crimes and reduce their likelihood of falling prey to these scams.”




How can I protect myself?

As part of their Shut Out Scammers campaign, the force have outlined a number of ways to avoid becomign a victim of fraud.

These are:

  • Be vigilant and on guard if someone turns up unexpectedly
  • Identity cards can be faked – phone the company to verify their identity
  • Never let people try to persuade you to let them into your home even if they are asking for or offering help – they may not be genuine. If someone is persistent, ask them to call at another time and arrange for a friend or family member to be with you
  • Don’t feel embarrassed - genuine callers expect you to be careful
  • Never provide any personal data such as your full name, address and date of birth – scammers can use this information to steal your identity
  • Don’t keep large amounts of money in your home
  • If in doubt, don’t answer the door.