MP warns residents to be vigilant over 'despicable' Covid vaccine scam
- Credit: Julia Lopez
Hornchurch and Upminster MP Julia Lopez has warned Havering residents of a "despicable" Covid-19 vaccine scam.
Mrs Lopez revealed that fraudsters are targeting elderly and vulnerable people nationwide by asking them for bank details or cash payments in exchange for a fake or non-existent vaccine.
The Conservative politician has been working with vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi and law enforcement teams to urge people to be vigilant and follow advice around the NHS vaccination programme.
Mrs Lopez said: “I am sad to say that throughout the pandemic, we have seen fraudsters adapt their methods to take advantage of Covid support schemes and exploit the fears of vulnerable people when they feel at their most anxious.
"This latest scam, which plays on people’s hopes for a vaccine, is one of the most callous and despicable so far.
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"We want to arm everyone with the knowledge that the NHS will never ask for cash or financial details to pay for the vaccine or verify a patient’s identity.”
Covid vaccines are only available through the NHS and people will be contacted by the NHS, their employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy to receive the vaccine when it is their turn.
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Mrs Lopez's spokesperson added that vaccines are free of charge and at no point should anyone be asked to pay for one.
Other advice given to residents included that the NHS will never ask for banking information, such as account details or a PIN, arrive unannounced at a home address to administer the vaccine or demand proof of identity by sending copies of personal documents.
Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Economic Crime Centre at the National Crime Agency, said: “The current level of reported fraud in relation to the vaccine remains very low but is increasing.
"The advice is very simple. The vaccine is only available on the NHS and you will never be asked to pay for it or to provide your bank details.”
If you are the victim of a fraud, you can report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
People can also forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, while suspicious text messages can be sent to 7726 free of charge.