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Warning about coronavirus shopping scam as female pensioner targeted

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Police are warning the public to be vigilant after receiving report of an elderly woman being targeted by a shopping scam.

A woman in her eighties reported being called by someone claiming to be from the NHS on Monday, (20 April). The fraudster called her three times in total over the course of 10 days and asked if she needed her shopping to be done.

They then proceeded to ask if they could come collect her bank cards to pick up her pension.  Thankfully, the victim refused and no money was lost.

PC Bernadette Lawrie, Sussex and Surrey Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer said:

“Criminals will exploit any opportunity possible to defraud innocent and vulnerable people out of their cash – and it’s incredibly disappointing to see that some are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak for this purpose.

“We’re asking members of the public to please remain vigilant and to share our advice with their families so we can prevent further people falling victim to this terrible scam.”

There are many people in our communities who aren’t able to get out to the shops, or to get their medication, and it’s really important that they get the support they need.

Below are some tips to consider when others are shopping on your behalf:

  • Do not engage with cold callers. 
  • Verify the person is who they say they and from the organisation they are claiming to represent.
  • Agree a maximum budget in advance
  • Ask them to purchase the items in advance and provide a receipt before making payment
  • Never hand over your credit/debit cards, PIN details to someone you don’t know

If you need assistance with shopping, please see Age UK’s website for advice and information. 

Criminals are expert impersonators who will try to trick people into giving them their money, personal information or into buying products that don’t exist by contacting you online, via the phone or even in person.

Since the coronavirus outbreak Action Fraud has received report of hundreds of scams, including phishing emails trying to deceive people into giving their personal information and online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other products, which have never arrived.  

If you are approached unexpectedly remember to:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
  • You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
  • The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account. They will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails.
  • Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

For more information about Operation Signature, the Force’s campaign to identify and support vulnerable victims of fraud, see the website here

To report crime, please call 101 or report online

Coronavirus

Crawley Council confirms 16 cases of COVID-19 with a link to Southgate pub

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Crawley Council has now confirmed that an outbreak of Covid-19 at The Downsman pub in Crawley earlier this week is now being handled by Public Health England who have been organising contact tracing of staff and customers.

They confirm there are now 16 confirmed cases of coronavirus with a link to the pub and say that while this is a relatively small number and may not be the definite source of infection for all these cases, they are asking people to take action to ensure the virus does not spread further.

But some confusion still remains over why a single day, where one person who visited the Downsman and who has subsequently contracted Coronavirus, is exempt from people having to self-isolate. Crawley Council said they were looking into more detail over why this advice had been given to them.


A spokesperson for Crawley Borough Council said:

“If you were in The Downsman pub between 9 and 18 July (excluding the 16July) please self-isolate for 14 days from the date of your last visit.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must self-isolate and get tested. Symptoms include a high temperature, new continuous cough and a loss or change in your sense of taste and smell.

If you develop symptoms your household contacts will also be required to self-isolate. More information on self-isolation is available on the NHS website.

If you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, you will need to complete your 14-day isolation period even if you test negative. There is detailed guidance on the NHS website.

In order to arrange a free test, please visit nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.

A testing site is based in Crawley until 28 July; there is also a testing centre at Gatwick Airport. For more information about testing then please visit the government website.

West Sussex County Council Public Health and Public Health England confirmed they are continuing to monitor the situation and will organise contact tracing for any further identified cases who may have visited the pub.

For more information and advice visit crawley.gov.uk/coronavirus, westsussex.gov.uk/coronavirus and let’s Keep Crawley Safe.

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