Fake coronavirus marshals are getting into people’s homes by pretending to be checking for rule-breakers and then stealing from them.
The underhand tactic is a new version of one in the summer when fake healthcare workers offered bogus virus tests to get access to homes.
Police forces and Trading Standards have seen incidents on doorsteps where fraudsters have conned members of the public.
But the marshals, officially called COVID-19 secure marshals, do not have the power to enforce social distancing, issue fines, or the right to enter homes.
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Katherine Hart, Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) lead officer for doorstep crime, said since the pandemic began there have been a series of scams involving imposter marshals and that this could increase over winter.
She said: "Since March we have seen so many different instances of fraudsters using the pandemic as an opportunity to defraud the public.
"These scams are shifting in their theme as the rules and regulations change with individuals now pretending to be COVID-19 secure marshals.
"COVID-19 secure marshals will never come to your door unannounced and do not have the right of entry, or the right to issue fines.”
Last month Bedfordshire Police issued a warning after two men tried to enter a property in Dunstable.
The suspects said they had been told by police to enter people's homes to check coronavirus guidelines were being followed.
They said if the man refused he would be fined, but when the resident asked them for ID, which they could not produce, he refused to let them in and kept the security chain on the door.
One of the offenders stopped the door being closed with his foot, but left the scene after the man again refused to let them inside, police said.
Hart added: "This type of scam appears in many forms, and I have also received information about individuals pretending to offer flu vaccinations on the door - a concerning development as we enter flu season.
"I am particularly concerned that elderly and vulnerable individuals may be at risk to this scam.
"I ask the public and public authorities to spread the correct safeguarding information so that we can stop these unscrupulous individuals from ruining the lives of those already struggling during this challenging time."
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