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Police issue warning over Covid vaccine scams

Written by on 22nd January 2021

Heartless fraudsters are offering false Covid vaccines in a bid to cheat others out of their hard-earned cash, and make money from a pandemic in which thousands in South Wales have died.

That’s the warning from detectives, who have also urged people to be vigilant – and to warn others about such scams.

In recent weeks, alerts have been issued about fraudsters offering a fake Covid vaccine if their would-be victim pays a fee, as well as about fraudulent texts being sent in a bid to get people to part with personal or financial details.

In some cases around the UK, manipulative fraudsters – pretending to be from the NHS or a local pharmacy – have called unannounced at a victim’s home to offer to administer the vaccine in return for a cash payment. They may also ring up offering the vaccine for a fee, or asking for bank details.

In other cases, people may be asked to press a number on their keypad or send a text message to confirm they wish to have the vaccine, which could either add a charge to a victim’s phone bill or see personal information being collected.

Fake websites have also been created containing convincing-looking NHS vaccine booking forms which may ask for bank details.

However, the Covid vaccine will always be offered free of charge, and you will never be asked for bank details, personal documents, or passwords.

Detective Inspector Nick Bellamy, from South Wales Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said:

“These criminals are innovative, manipulative and can be extremely convincing, and are choosing to take advantage of the global pandemic in an attempt to line their own pockets.
“The Covid vaccine will always be administered by the NHS, free of charge, and you’ll never have to provide bank or financial details, nor passwords or PINs, to get one.
“Fake messages or phone calls purporting to be from the NHS or government may ask you to provide personal information or click on a link, or offer a Covid-related government grant. Again, these are scams.”

The public is being reminded that the NHS will never:

  • Ask for payments, as the vaccine is free of charge
  • Ask for your bank details
  • Arrive at your home, unannounced, to give the vaccine
  • Ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents (e.g. passport)

Police are also asking people to raise awareness of these scams with loved ones, including those who may not see this advice online.

DI Bellamy added:

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen people come together to help their community and take the necessary measures to keep each other safe and protect our NHS, and the rollout of the coronavirus vaccination offers us all some hope.
“While a small minority may try to use the situation to scam others, we can all look out for loved ones and passing on this advice so they can spot the signs of a scam.”

If you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft, or think you might have been, contact Action Fraud via https://actionfraud.police.uk or 0300 123 2040. You can also visit https://bit.ly/SWPReportOnline or call police on 101.

Forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk to be investigated; suspicious text messages can be forwarded to 7726.

You can report information relating to vaccine fraud anonymously via Crimestoppers’ Covid Fraud Hotline – http://covidfraudhotline.org or 0800 587 5030.