ORGANISED criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic – exploiting vulnerable people amid reports of scammers making fraudulent PPE claims to care homes and offering to disinfect people’s driveways. 

The Scottish Government is warning people to ensure they do not become victims, while police have stressed they will “persistently pursue” anyone taking advantage of vulnerable people and businesses. 

A care home in central Scotland was left without PPE for staff after a supplier claimed they had not received the £10,000 payment, despite it being sent. An investigation by Police Scotland found that the payment had been moved from the bank account it was paid into and officers believe that organised criminals are to blame. 

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There have also been a number of reports of people knocking on doors and offering to disinfect driveways to remove any trace of Covid-19 for a fee being paid. Authorities have also been told about businesses emailed by scammers telling them to click on an official-looking link for a £25,000 government grant – but the link leads to a fake UK Government-branded website which asks people to hand over their banking details. 

Scottish Borders Council intercepted a £10,000 attempted fraud when an application for a business support grant was hacked by criminals who requested the payment was re-directed to a different bank account. 

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Organised crime groups are adept at taking advantage of any situation that presents itself. 

“People are understandably concerned about their health and that of their family, as well as concerned about their jobs. It is abhorrent but not unexpected, that these groups are looking to exploit those fears and concerns. 

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“A business falling foul to one of these scams could be disastrous, especially if they are already struggling and could ultimately lead to them stopping trading. 

“It is important that we all do what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I would encourage anyone that if they see something, say something.” 

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Angela McLaren added: "During the current pandemic, we are seeing targeted attempts by fraudsters to adapt well-known techniques to include references to coronavirus, lockdown measures and PPE. We remain vigilant to this and circulate alerts and preventative messages, not just those associated with Covid-19, where appropriate. 

"We will persistently pursue those who set out to cause harm and misery to our communities and to make Scotland a hostile environment for those involved. 

"It is important that everyone protects themselves and remains vigilant. Be aware that a telephone call, email or text may not be from the person or organisation it appears to come from. Never click on a link from an unsolicited email or text and remember that the banks and the police will never ask you for personal banking information or ask you to move funds to a safe account."