'They are playing on people's desperation': Scam email with fake offer for vaccine on rise in Lancashire
Lancashire residents are being targeted by scam emails with fake offers of the coronavirus vaccine, the NHS has now warned.
People in Preston have reported being targeted by suspicious emails, calls and text messages offering the vaccine, prompting the NHS to warn residents not to hand over any financial information.
Debbie Crowther, 54, of Muncaster Road, said the scam is "playing on people's desperation" after she admitted to only seeing her newborn granddaughter once in four months due to the lockdown.
Last year was her first Christmas in 33 years without all of her children and extended family.
She said: "When I received the email, I couldn't believe that I had been selected and had the referral through. I suffer from immune illnesses and degenerative disorders, so I thought I had been contacted because of my health.
"I really believed I would be going to get my vaccine because the email looks real and completely above board. It gives you an invitation where you can either accept or decline the offer for the vaccination.
"It was when I rang the doctors that they told me it was a scam email that was doing the rounds. It made me so mad because I wonder how many people would click the link and give their bank details in believing they will get their injection faster.
"It is absolutely disgusting that there are people out there playing on vulnerable people in society who unfortunately would go through with it. People are already worried and panicking about getting their vaccine, so if they think they can pay to get it sooner to be able to see their families, they will.
"Luckily, I was able to video call with my family at Christmas, but so many older people don't even know how to do that, so this email will come as a lifeline to some. The sooner word gets out the better so that it can be blocked for good."
And Philip Sunderland, 62, from Kingsfold, Penwortham, also received the email this morning, which he too was told was a scam by his doctor's surgery.
He said: "I received the email claiming to be from NHS England regarding an appointment for a coronavirus vaccination. It looks genuine, but people need to be careful.
"Although I am considered vulnerable with being diabetic and having suffered a double brain haemorrhage a few years ago, and having a brain aneurysm, I still wasn’t expecting to be called so soon for the vaccination.
"After the email has asked you for your details, you go to the next page where it asks for your bank details. I immediately called my doctors surgery and was told that everyone will be contacted either by phone or by an official letter. Any type of communication regarding this vaccination that asks for bank details should be considered as fraudulent and be reported.
"Life is difficult enough at present without these low life’s making it more so."
As NHS professionals continue to visit housebound patients over the age of 80 to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine, residents are being urged to protect themselves from any fraudulent activity.
DI Warren Atkinson, of the Lancashire Constabulary Economic Crime Unit, said: "We have seen an increase in the last two months, particularly around scam text messages.
"Please be aware that the vaccine is only available from the NHS and, most importantly, is free of charge.
"The NHS will never ask you for details about your bank account or to pay for the vaccine. If you receive an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and you are asked to provide financial details, this is a scam."
If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to [email protected]
Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to police by calling 101.
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