Scottish care home conned out of PPE as crime groups exploit pandemic

A care home in Forth Valley was left without personal protective equipment (PPE) after a payment was stolen by criminals, a task force has heard.

The unnamed care home made a £10,000 payment to a supplier, only to be told the money could not be traced.

Police believe an organised crime group removed the payment from the bank account it was sent to.

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The incident was relayed to the Serious Organised Crime Task Force at a meeting on Monday, along with a spate of coronavirus-related frauds including criminals going door-to-door offering to “disinfect” driveways of Covid-19.

A care home in Forth Valley was left without personal protective equipment (PPE) after a payment was stolen by criminals, a task force has heard. (Credit: Shutterstock)

‘Abhorrent’

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, who chairs the task force, described the actions of the groups as “abhorrent, but not unexpected”.

He said: “Organised crime groups are adept at taking advantage of any situation that presents itself.

“People are understandably concerned about their health and that of their family, as well as concerned about their jobs.

“It is abhorrent, but not unexpected, that these groups are looking to exploit those fears and concerns.

“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.

“It is important that we all do what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I would encourage anyone that if they see something, say something.”

Bogus £25,000 grant

In another case, businesses were sent emails purporting to be from the UK Government with an “official looking” link for a £25,000 grant, which then led to a fake website asking for bank details.

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Scottish Borders Council also managed to derail an attempt to steal a £10,000 business grant by criminals, who requested the redirection of the funds.

Fiona Richardson, chief officer of Trading Standards Scotland, said there have been continued reports of door-to-door crime and fraudulent coronavirus testing kits.

Ms Richardson said: “At this difficult time please don’t rush into any purchases and be very wary of any unsolicited callers.”

“Never click on a link from an unsolicited email or text”

Assistant chief constable Angela McLaren said Police Scotland will “persistently pursue” criminals across the country, adding: “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.

“Never click on a link from an unsolicited email or text, and remember that the banks and the police will never ask you for personal banking information or ask you to move funds to a safe account.”

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