VACCINE SCAM: Bristol mayor’s mum targeted by fraudsters
Marvin Rees’s mum has been targeted by fraudsters requesting payment for the coronavirus vaccine, Bristol’s mayor revealed.
Mr Rees issued a warning last night (Wednesday, January 13) about the text message scam involving crooks pretending to be from the NHS or a doctor’s surgery.
Speaking during a Facebook Live, he said: “It is sad that ever since lockdown began people have been trying to step into the vulnerability exposed by Covid to exploit and steal from other people.
“Cyber criminals have been targeting people with quite convincing text messages stating they are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and asking for payment details.
“The Covid-19 vaccine is free and the NHS will never ask you for payment details.
“If anyone asks you for payment in relation to the Coivd-19 vaccine, just immediately delete it.
“My mum got some messages like this and was asking me about it, and I said ‘Just ignore it’.
“You could screenshot it and send it to my office so we could begin to build an awareness with ourselves, the health service and the police.
“Please be aware of the scamming that is going on and look out for your neighbours and talk to people who might be particularly vulnerable to approaches like this.”
Health trusts and the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre have issued a series of warnings about fake text messages offering the coronavirus vaccine in exchange for money.
Some contain a link that goes to a fraudulent website or asks for bank details and personal information, while others steal money by getting the recipient to reply unknowingly via premium-rate texts.
Fears are growing that the scam will catch out more people now that the mass vaccination programme is under way, with Ashton Gate stadium one of seven “super hubs” administering jabs.
The main advice is that the vaccine is free and the NHS will never ask you for payment or bank details.
Meanwhile, Mr Rees said the increase in Covid-19 in Bristol was “very stark” and that the new, more transmissible variant was almost certainly spreading throughout the city.
He said the case rate as of January 7 was 489.2 per 100,000 Bristol residents, compared with an England average of 630.
It was 993 In Liverpool, 1,004 in London and 458 in Manchester, while locally it stood at 448 in South Gloucestershire, 378 in Bath & North East Somerset and 377 in North Somerset.
The mayor said: “It is better than the England average but that is not saying much because the numbers are at a very unhealthy level for the country as a whole, with lots of pressure on our hospitals and the NHS.
“So we need to continue to engage in Covid-safe behaviours.
“The R number for the South West is between 1.1 and 1.5.
“That means the virus is growing.
“We have had a 42.5 per cent increase in cases compared with the previous reported week.
“That is a very stark rate of increase.
“It is also highly likely that the Covid-19 variant is circulating in Bristol.
“We know the variant is more easily transmitted, up to 50 per cent more potent than the strain we got used to.
“We went from very low numbers to very high numbers to very low numbers in very short periods of time, and now we’re back to very high numbers.
“The threat of that shows that when we stop engaging in Covid-safe behaviours this virus can grow very dramatically.
“What it also shows is that when we engage in Covid-safe behaviors we can push the virus back very quickly and realise the benefits of that.
“There are many things that are not in our control but there are many things that are in our control.
“We have to continue to be gracious and care for each other at this time.”
Words: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter
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