Pembrokeshire residents are being warned to be on their guard against a series of scams attempting to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak.
Miracle cures, bogus testing kits and counterfeit hand sanitiser are just some of the coronavirus or Covid-19 themed scams being reported nationally.
Whilst no direct reports have been received yet, Pembrokeshire Trading Standards and Dyfed-Powys Police are warning everyone to be on their guard and to look out for vulnerable friends and family who may be targeted.
Scammers are exploiting the coronavirus situation, dressing up familiar old scams to make them appear credible.
Tactics are employed by phone, mail, on the doorstep and online. Some examples include -
Miracle Cures & Supplements
Businesses have also been targeted by bank mandate fraud –
Sandra McSparron, Lead Trading Standards Officer at Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “The list is endless – scammers have no limits, no morals, no scruples - they just want to profit”
“This is a difficult time for everyone, especially vulnerable people who are self-isolating or shielding”.
“Simple acts like keeping in touch by phone or online can make all the difference. Seek advice and support if you or someone you know is concerned about any suspicious contact.”
Cllr Cris Tomos, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Public Protection and Welsh language, added: “It is a very sad but unfortunate fact of life that scammers will try to take advantage of any situation they can to try to get their hands on people’s money.
“We know there are such scams linked to coronavirus being circulated so please follow the advice of our Trading Standards Team and be very wary of unsolicited calls emails, etc and protect yourself and your family from these criminals who are preying on extra vulnerabilities at this time.”
Trading standards offer the following advice –
If you are unable to go out and need help with essential matters such as shopping and collection of medicines, contact the Council’s Community Coordination Hub (details below). Be wary of anyone turning up on your doorstep without prior arrangement.
Hiking Up Prices
In addition to scams some retailers have ramped up the price of goods in high demand such as hand gel, paracetamol and toilet roll, a process known as price gouging.
Examples include a standard box of paracetamol priced £59 online and a small bottle of hand sanitiser priced £30.
Competition watchdog the Consumer and Markets Authority, has set up a taskforce to crack down on businesses that cash in during the outbreak.
It states action will be taken against traders that do not heed the warning. eBay has already suspended hundreds of “bad seller” accounts. You can report inflated price concerns to the CMA via the www.gov.uk website.
Pembrokeshire County Council has set up a Community Coordination Hub Team to support vulnerable residents affected by the COVID-19 virus, providing voluntary services such as grocery shopping and medicine delivery.
For more information see https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/coronavirus-covid-19-community-information/community-hub contact the team on 01437 776301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can report scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online at www.actionfraud.police.uk.
If you want consumer advice and support contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 for a Welsh speaker - the details will be shared with Trading Standards who may also contact you by phone to offer support and advice.