Police are reminding people booking an appointment for a coronavirus vaccination to be vigilant after scammers targeted two vulnerable people in Sussex.

The first incident happened on Tuesday (14 December) where the victim, received a text message to her mobile phone from what appeared to be the NHS.

The message stated that she was now eligible for her Covid booster with a link.

She filled out the form which included all her personal details such as her address and her banking details, where the form stated there was a £1.99 fee for the booster hence the need for banking details.

Once the victim submitted the form she received a call from an 0800 number claiming to be her bank and told her there had been some fraudulent use on her bank account and she needed to move money to a new account which they had created for her. 

The man became aggressive, and used abusive language and made threats towards the victim.

After hanging up the victim called the police who attended to offer safeguarding and support under Operation Signature

A second case involved a 91-year-old man from Pulborough, who received an email from what he thought to be a valid NHS email which said he needed to pay £2.40 delivery fee for a PCR test.

He followed that link and entered his credit card details.

Later he questioned the legitimacy of the email and managed to block outgoing payments from his credit card.

Bernadette Lawrie, Operation Signature lead for Surrey and Sussex said: “We continue to see heartless fraudsters exploiting the pandemic to target individuals when they are at their most vulnerable.  We would urge the public to be aware of the tactics being used including spoofing telephone numbers so they appear legitimate and remind people that the Covid-19 vaccines and NHS testing services are free and will not request your bank card details.”

Chief Inspector Robert Walker said: “If you receive any communication that you were not expecting please be very careful about what you do. Never give your banking details out, ever. If you need to verify anything with your bank, the NHS or whomever has sent a communication to you, separately phone or log onto the official website and never follow a link sent to you that you are not sure of.”

All incidents of fraud should be reported to Action Fraud which is the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, here or by calling 0300 123 2040 Monday to Friday 8am – 8pm.

If you do receive a suspicious text message, forward it to 7726. This free-of-charge short code enables your provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.

Where the victim of fraud is elderly or vulnerable, reports can be made directly to Sussex on 101 or by email mailto:101@sussex.pnn.police.uk