Fraudsters are posing as nurses on dating sites as they try to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
National Crime Agency director general Lynn Owens said “we’ve seen reports of a dating fraud where people are pretending to be… a nurse in a hospital and say, ‘I need money to help me to get to work’, and abuse people that way,” she said.
Online shopping fraud is also up 46% since the lockdown, “making it one of the biggest growth areas in crime”, with Covid-19 now linked to around 3% of all scams reported.
Criminals are playing on people’s fears, offering fake or non-existent items for sale, including game consoles, personal protective equipment, medicines, hand sanitiser, and even puppies, Lynn Owens said.
Investigators also fear organised crime gangs could try to exploit the Government’s financial package.
The NCA is working with the Cabinet Office, the Department of Work and Pensions and the tax office to identify fraudulent claims being made.