Police are hunting a fraudster who injected a pensioner with a fake vaccine before demanding £160 for the useless jab.
A 92-year-old woman was jabbed in the arm with a ‘dart-like implement’ after a man claiming to be an NHS worker knocked on her door in South London, saying he was administering vaccines in the area.
The conman then asked for £160, which the victim paid as he said it would be reimbursed by the NHS, before leaving her home around 2pm on December 30.
Five days later he returned to the pensioner’s home in Surbiton, south London and demanded another £100.
It is not yet known what substance, if any, was injected, but the victim was later checked over at her local hospital and has suffered no ill effects following her ordeal, police said.
CCTV footage captured the suspected fraudster who called on the 92-year-old and claimed he was from the NHS before administering a fake vaccine and demanding £160 from the victim
Yesterday the City of London Police’s asked for the public’s help in tracing the fraudster amid fears he may have duped other pensioners and vulnerable people.
Detective Inspector Kevin Ives from the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said: ‘This is a disgusting and totally unacceptable assault on a member of the public which won’t be tolerated.
The City of London Police asked for the public’s help in tracing the suspected fraudster
‘We are appealing to anyone who may have information that could assist us in identifying this man to get in touch.
‘It is crucial we catch him as soon as possible as not only is he defrauding individuals of money, he may endanger people’s lives.’
The man is described as white with a London accent, in his early thirties, 5ft 9in tall, medium-build, with light brown hair that is combed back.
On his second visit to the victim’s address on Kingsmead Avenue, he was wearing a navy blue tracksuit with white stripes down the side.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘The Covid-19 vaccine will always be available free of charge.
‘The NHS will never ask you to share bank details to confirm your identity or pay for a vaccine.’
It comes as Trading Standards warned vulnerable people are being targeted with fraudulent messages offering them access to coronavirus vaccinations.
Trading Standards had earlier warned of a scam where vulnerable people were sent fraudulent messages offering them early access to the vaccine
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said that text messages had been sent out including links to fake NHS websites that asked recipients for bank details, supposedly for verification purposes.
Such messages were first reported at the end of December on the Western Isles of Scotland, but the CTSI says they are ‘by no means limited to the region’.
Katherine Hart, lead officer at the CTSI, said: ‘I have been tracking and warning the public about Covid-19-related scams since the beginning of the pandemic, and at every stage of response, unscrupulous individuals have modified their campaigns to defraud the public.
‘The vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others.’
Anyone with information about the identity of this man, or CCTV or Dashcam footage from the area at the time of the incident, should call 101, quoting reference 3042.
How criminals are targeting Britons with a range of scams during the pandemic
Criminals have adjusted their scams to exploit the Covid-19 crisis, with one involving fraudulent messages offering vulnerable Britons access to vaccinations.
Text messages have been sent out to people in the UK including links to fake NHS websites that asked recipients for bank details, supposedly for verification purposes.
Such messages were first reported last month on the Western Isles of Scotland, but the Chartered Trading Standards Institute said they have since spread to other areas.
Slough Borough Council in Berkshire has now issued its own warning to residents about text message asking people to ‘sign up’ to get the vaccine through an ‘application form’ which asks for personal information and bank card details.
And Derbyshire Constabulary reported texts offering a link to an ‘extremely convincing’ fake NHS website but insisted this was a scam.
Other scams include fraudsters sending emails or texts pretending to be from government departments and offering grants related to coronavirus.
Criminals may also get in touch claiming to be from an airline or travel agency, offering fake refunds for cancelled holidays.
People also need to be wary of using social media to chase up refunds with legitimate travel companies, because criminals may be monitoring these posts and could use the information in them to manipulate scam victims.
Fraudsters may also target people who have switched to home working during the pandemic, by claiming to be from IT departments.
Other criminals are offering fake goods for sale on auction websites and social media in an attempt to exploit high demand for items such as personal protective equipment.