Alert over Covid conman in Lancashire

Businesses are being warned to be on their guard following reports of a bogus official carrying out inspections of their premises.

By Mike Hill
Saturday, 15th August 2020, 7:00 am
Legitimate face masks but a suspected conman is offering his own supplies to Lancashire businesses
Legitimate face masks but a suspected conman is offering his own supplies to Lancashire businesses

Lancashire County Council’s trading standards team has issued the warning following a report from a Chorley-based barber.

A man wearing a T-shirt with an NHS logo had visited the shop claiming to be from the council and said he had to carry out an inspection.

He tried to sell them boxes of face masks saying they needed to purchase them to make their premises ‘Covid-secure’, even though they already had suitable protective equipment. He went on to say he could offer a deep-clean service for a fee.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Traders across Lancashire are being warned to be vigilant against this type of scam. Genuine district and county council officers are inspecting businesses to ensure they are complying with Covid-19 measures and always carry photo ID, never claim or display any links to the NHS and will not sell protective equipment or any deep clean services.

County Coun Albert Atkinson, cabinet member for technical services, rural affairs and waste management, said: “Covid-19 related scams, such as fake emails about grants and tax rebates and requests for pre-payment for tests, have been circulating for a while.

“However, this type of very targeted scam is new to trading standards.

“If you’re in any doubt, you should check the officer’s identity by contacting the relevant council. A genuine official will always be happy to wait while a check is carried out.

“Although businesses must be vigilant against scams traders cannot refuse a genuine inspection by an authorized officer.

“These visits are necessary to ensure businesses are following the regulations to reduce the risk of coronavirus being spread in our community.”

If you have any information about this scam, think you have been visited by this individual, or have any other information on the many Covid-related scams circulating at the moment, please call trading standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.