Crime gangs 'offering to clean Covid-19 from driveways' as scams escalate

Dan Sanderson
Online fraudsters are targeting businesses across Scotland - Tim Goode/PA

Crime gangs are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic by targeting vulnerable people at home and exploiting the care home sector, police have warned.

Among the scams being deployed by criminals in Scotland are fraudulent offers to “disinfect” coronavirus from driveways for a fee and false promises of UK government grant support.

The tactics were “abhorrent, but not unexpected,” Humza Yousaf, the Scottish justice secretary, said. He urged residents and businesses to remain on alert for fraud

“Organised crime groups are adept at taking advantage of any situation that presents itself,” he said. “People are understandably concerned about their health, and that of their family, as well as concerned about their jobs.

“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.”

On one occasion, a care home in the Forth Valley area was left without PPE after the supplier claimed they had not received the £10,000 payment, despite it being sent. 

A police investigation showed that the payment had been moved from the bank account it was paid into and they believe organised criminals were behind it.

Another scam involves businesses being emailed by scammers urging them to click on an official-looking link and hand over their bank details in return for a £25,000 grant.

There have also been a number of reports of people knocking doors and offering to disinfect the householder’s driveway to rid it of any Covid-19 for a fee.

Meanwhile, across the world criminals are selling fake Covid-19 tests or cures online.

Angela McLaren, Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable, said the gangs were adapting "well-known techniques to include references to coronavirus, lockdown measures and PPE".

She added: "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.”