Scammers have targeted vulnerable people in the north-east with fake Covid-19 vaccination appointments.
Hundreds of bogus emails posing as NHS invitations have gone out to residents telling them they have been “selected” for a coronavirus vaccine – but then ask for bank details.
Aberdeen councillor Sarah Duncan, chairwoman of the Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership’s Integration Joint Board (IJB), said she is concerned older or vulnerable people could be fooled by the heartless fraudsters.
She said: “I’m appalled that there are some people who are seeking to exploit the pandemic like this.
“But scammers will take every opportunity they can and hopefully we can close this one down quickly – but I have no doubt that they will pop up with another avenue of how they can exploit vulnerable people again.”
NHS Grampian put out a warning on social media telling told people to be aware of the con.
A spokeswoman for the health board said: “We are aware a number of Covid-19 vaccination scam emails are in circulation and we want to remind everyone that we will not use email to offer appointments to the general public nor ask them to respond with key pieces of personal information.
“We will never ask them for their bank details – there is no charge for the vaccine.
“Any communication you receive suggesting otherwise – no matter how authentic it looks – is a scam and should be deleted immediately.”
Ms Duncan said she was pleased to see NHS Grampian was “making it very clear” that people will never be asked for personal details or bank account details to get a vaccination.
She added: “I think the best thing we can all do is tell everyone we know that you will never, ever be asked for this kind of information by the NHS that these scam emails are asking for.”
Martin Greig, who sits on Aberdeen City Council’s public protection committee, described the emails as a “horrible crime” and said he hoped those responsible would be identified.
He added: “Even in a crisis there are individuals trying to benefit from the vulnerability of other people.
“Sadly this kind of criminal activity has been going on and it’s vital warn and protect those who are vulnerable to approaches from unscrupulous people.
“There scams are simply cases of attempted theft and everything possible should be done to protect potential victims.”
Chief Inspector Anton Stephenson, of Police Scotland’s Safer Communities Division, said: “We are asking the public to be alert to potential scam messages connected with coronavirus vaccines. These include text messages, phone calls and emails.
“The messages suggest people are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine and in some cases ask for payment. We are asking people to be aware that unsolicited email, text messages and calls may not be from the person or organisation which they appear to be from.
“We are working closely with partners to deter this kind of scam and make Scotland a hostile environment for scammers.”