Doorstep conmen are raking in millions of pounds from vulnerable people, including pensioners shielding at home because of Covid-19.
Criminals are knocking on doors and seeking cash for jobs in the home or garden. William Grayson, 81, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, lost £200 to two crooks who claimed to be volunteers from a ‘Covid support group’ and offered to do shopping and errands for him while he was shielding.
He said: ‘Realising these people were out to get me made a dark time even darker.’ Other fraudsters have claimed to be from NHS services offering fast-track testing and vaccines – or selling vitamin pills that ‘protect against the virus’.
Doorstep conmen are raking in millions of pounds from vulnerable people, including pensioners shielding at home because of Covid-19 (stock image)
Police figures show £18.7million was lost to doorstep crime in 2020, but the true figure is expected to be much higher because many frauds go unreported.
Adam French, of consumer group Which?, said: ‘It’s highly concerning that doorstep scammers are… looking to exploit the pandemic.
‘We all need to be wary of anyone who knocks on our door unexpectedly.’
He added: ‘Doorstep scams can come in many forms. For example, fraudsters might offer building, gardening or home improvement services and then overcharge for or never complete the work.’
A survey of 1,186 Which? members found that 16 per cent have received unsolicited visits from someone claiming to be a salesperson or charity worker since the start of the first lockdown.
Some nine per cent said that they felt the visitor was pressuring them into making a purchase or making a donation.
An increase in home improvement projects during lockdown provided scammers with new opportunities to rehash old scams.
Over a third of Which? members surveyed who had an unsolicited door knock said it was someone offering home improvement services.
William Grayson, 81, from Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, lost £200 after two claimed to be volunteers from a ‘Covid support group’ and offered to do shopping and errands for him while he was shielding (stock image)