Tourists in Europe being targeted by bedbug hoaxes

Greece’s health ministry is seeking police help against hoaxers who tried to scare foreign tourists. Credit: AP

Bedbug hoaxes are being used to scam unsuspecting tourists in Greece and France, following the widespread fear of the critters across Europe in recent months.

Greece's health ministry has asked the police to step in and prevent hoaxers from preying on tourists' fear of the insects after finding posters plastered around Athens' city centre, featuring fake logos and "absolutely false" claims about a bedbug crisis.

The scammers threatened visitors with a 500-euro (£428) fine if they did not evacuate their accommodation and then wished them a pleasant stay in Greece.

Reports suggest scammers are also preying on bedbug fears in eastern France, and two men were reportedly arrested for selling bogus products to protect people from the bugs.

The scammers allegedly called victims, who were typically elderly women, and told them there was a bedbug infestation in their neighbourhood.

Purporting to be health officials, the men then sprayed the victims' homes with an aerosol, supposedly to fumigate the space, and provided an ointment to keep the bugs away from human skin.

The men reportedly charged between 300 and 2,100 euros (£257-£1,800) per visit.

Police arrested the men in Strasbourg, eastern France.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…