Coronavirus-Related Scams - How To Protect Yourself

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Online Scammers Capitalise on Coronavirus Pandemic

WiltsCommMessaging logo high thumbCyber criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic via phishing emails, websites and text messages to scam members of the public out of large sums of money and sensitive information during these uncertain times across the nation.

Together with other law enforcement, Government and private sector partners, we are supporting a national campaign to raise awareness and help people become more vigilant against fraud, particularly sharing their financial and personal information.

Criminals are experts at impersonating people and organisations you trust, even the Police and Government. They spend hours researching for their cons, in order to make you believe what they are saying, and even a brief moment with your guard down is often enough for their scam to be successful.


We want to urge the public when online to:

Stop. It’s important to stop and think a moment before parting with any money or information.

Challenge. Challenge the origin of your email, text or website. Could it be fake? Check with the sender using another method of communication.

Protect. Protect yourself with added security measures where possible and report anything suspicious to your bank or Action Fraud.


Criminals are sending emails offering fake medical support or supplies, tricking people who may be vulnerable, frightened or increasingly isolated at home. These fraudsters try to lure people in with offers that look too good to be true or make appeals to support bogus charities.

Reports from the public have included online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser and other items via auction sites, which have never arrived. There have also been a number of cases where fake testing kits have been offered for sale.

Criminals are sometimes using Government branding to try to scam people, including false offers of financial support through unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages. The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.

Since the virus took a hold in the UK there have been more than 100 victims of Coronavirus related fraud, with losses of almost £1m recorded.

Wiltshire Police Detective Inspector, Gemma Vinton, said “Criminals are using the Coronavirus pandemic to their advantage and we have seen examples of them adapting their methods to play upon people’s fear and anxiety. So far we have seen limited incidents in the South West but we are warning everyone to be vigilant, not just the vulnerable or elderly.

“Huge increases in the number of people working remotely means they could be more vulnerable to computer service fraud where criminals will try and convince you to provide access to your computer or reveal logon details and passwords. People are using the internet for shopping more than usual, and relying on the telephone and social media to stay in touch and obtain information, yet these are common arenas in which fraudsters operate.

“We have seen a surge in phishing scams, and are expecting to see even more e-mails and calls claiming to be from government departments offering grants, tax rebates, or compensation, so we must all be cautious. Please also remember that neither your bank nor the police will ever ask you to transfer money to any so-called “safe” account.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, Angus Macpherson, added “This situation is likely to continue, with criminals looking to exploit consequences of the pandemic further down the line, such as offering those with financial concerns false loans or even pension releases. They are callous individuals, looking to line their pockets at the expense of others at a particularly difficult time.

“It’s important to be aware of these scams and take the suggested precautions. As people become more isolated from communities and support networks they are increasingly vulnerable to become targets, and ultimately victims, of cyber scammers. We also ask you to please look out for vulnerable people you know who could be a target and talk to them of the possible dangers.”


If you have been a victim of a cyber crime, please report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or via their website at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk a

We Must Be Patient and Allow the Police To Navigate the New Legislation

WiltsCommMessaging logo high thumbBlog post by Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson:

This week there has been a sharp focus on policing and the different interpretations of how to enforce the Government guidance and the new legislation.

Whilst some feel that the police are being 'heavy-handed', others want the police to do more and, unfortunately, our hard-working officers, staff and volunteers find themselves in the middle.

My view on this, which is echoed by the Chief Constable, is that we, in Wiltshire, want to use enforcement action as a last resort.

Our officers will engage with our communities, explain the importance of this situation and encourage them to heed the guidelines as set out by Government - if enforcement is needed however, it will of course be utilised.

This is a very fast moving issue and these are unchartered waters for policing, legislation, public health and, ultimately, us all.

The Prime Minister has been clear in the guidance he laid out - stay home and save lives.
I would encourage you all to think about your actions and the personal responsibility we must now all take.

We will all need to change our habits as a result of Coronavirus and many have had to make changes to their daily routine but ultimately, it is a small price to pay to save lives, protect our NHS and support our keyworkers.

We must also remember that it is not the police who write laws and pass legislation - their responsibility is to engage, encourage, explain and only when necessary should they enforce.

Ordinarily, legislation goes through years of checking and testing to ensure that it is practical and works in society. Whereas this legislation was created and passed in a few weeks to help slow and reduce the spread of the virus.

We need to be patient and allow the National Police Chief's Council, and our local forces, time and space to understand what this means for them and our communities.

In a time of great uncertainty, I think we all need to take the opportunity to be kinder to one another and less judgemental. It is reassuring to see just how much different communities are pulling together to help those in self-isolation or vulnerable and unable to get groceries and medicine. The community effort in supporting others has genuinely been incredible across our county and further afield.

I am proud of the way in which the police in Wiltshire are operating during this emergency, alongside their partners, and the way in which they continue to work together during what is a national public health emergency for all. 

We all have a role to play in keeping people safe and protecting the NHS, and only by working together will we be successful.

Uninsured Drivers Targeted Across the County

Crime Appeals

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Appeal following assault in Castle Street, Trowbridge

Detectives are investigating an assault which took place in Trowbridge in the early hours of this morning (16/2).

At approximately 4.50am, a 39-year-old man was in Castle Street, when he was assaulted.

He fell to the floor during the attack and sustained injuries to his face and head. He was taken to the Royal United Hospital in Bath by ambulance – the full extent of his injuries have not yet been established.

Det Con Hannah Agate said: “Since we received this initial report this morning, we have been conducting numerous enquiries to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the assault – this includes obtaining any relevant CCTV footage from the local area.

“As part of our enquiries we are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident – you could have information which could significantly help our enquiries. So far, no arrests have been made but our enquiries are continuing this afternoon.”

Witness appeal - canal side assault

We're appealing for witnesses after an incident near Staverton Marina, Trowbridge.

An altercation between a 17-year-old female and a male took place in the early hours of Saturday morning (15/02) on a canal boat near the marina resulting in the girl being assaulted; she then walked along part of the tow path to the marina followed by the man who was known to her.

We are looking for anyone who may have seen the couple or heard or saw anything suspicious between 2am and 4am on that day.

An 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm and has been released on conditional bail.

Appeal to locate owners of suspected stolen power tools and electrical goods

Officers investigating a series of non-dwelling burglaries in Trowbridge and surrounding areas are trying to identify the owners of a number of suspected stolen items.

In January 2020, officers from the Community Tasking Team arrested a 30 year old man and subsequently also arrested a 19-year-old man, on suspicion of a series of non-dwelling burglaries at commercial sites and thefts from vehicles.

Both men have been released while further enquiries are carried out.

As part of these enquiries, officers have seized a large number of power tools and electrical equipment, all believed to be stolen.

While some of the items have been reunited with their owners, we are still trying to identify the owners of a large number of suspected stolen power tools, and we are in the process of tracing further victims.

PC Tom Carver, from the Community Tasking Team, said: “Between December 2019 and January this year, we received a large number of reports of burglaries at commercial premises, as well as thefts from vehicles. As part of our enquiries, we have made two arrests, however, we are really keen to speak to anyone who believes they may have had items stolen.”

Pictures of the stolen items are attached.

If you think you may have been a victim, email the Community Tasking Team on .

Proof of ownership will be required.

Anyone with information relating to any of the above appeaks should call 101, or alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Message Sent By
Sam Withey (Police, Neighbourhood Officer, CPT Trowbridge)

Drink and Drug Driving Campaign

Wiltshire Police is supporting the National Police Chiefs Council Drink Drug Drive campaign that launches this week and runs through to January.

Inspector Mark Freeman, of Specialist Operations, said: “Since 2015 we have had the ability to make roadside checks for suspected drug drivers as well as those who risk drinking and driving. The drug wipe test equipment makes it far easier to detect those who have taken drugs without the need to return to custody. It is a simple test that just takes minutes.

Read more: Drink and Drug Driving Campaign

Do Not Give Burglars the Opportunity To Ruin Your Christmas

Whilst most people and their families are putting up their Christmas decorations and getting in the festive spirit there are still some scrooges determined to ruin the season for others.

Statistics tell us that burglary increases during the winter months. Longer, darker nights create the perfect environment for burglars who are seeking to take advantage of empty or insecure homes.

Neighbourhood Sergeant, Richard Marshall is calling on the public to report any suspicious activity to the police to ensure a safe and enjoyable Christmas for all.

Read more: Do Not Give Burglars the Opportunity To Ruin Your Christmas

Fraud Warning After Wiltshire Couple Scammed By Criminals Posing As Police Officers

WiltsCommMessaging logo high thumbWe are urging people to be vigilant after a Wiltshire couple were defrauded by scammers posing as police officers.

The couple were contacted over the phone by a man who claimed to be a police officer investigating fraud.

He told them that someone had attempted to use their bank card fraudulently and even told them to dial 999 to speak to their local force.

But, he kept the line open, meaning the victims were still speaking to the fraudsters.

The victims then followed the instructions of the criminals, still believing they were police officers, and withdrew a large amount of cash, which was collected by someone pretending to be a courier.

Det Con Emma Wood, from Swindon CID, said this case showed how convincing and persuasive these types of fraudsters can be.

She said: "The victims in this case genuinely believed they were speaking to police officers and that they needed to cooperate with their requests or they could lose more money to fraudsters or even be arrested for perverting the course of justice.

"This is why it is so important that we remind people of the simple steps they can take to avoid being scammed in this way.

"Please remember, a police officer would never ask you to withdraw money and give it to them.

"They would also be able to meet you face-to-face and show you ID, and would be happy for you to verify their credentials by calling 101.

"If you receive a suspicious phone call then please hang up the phone and report it. Don't feel worried about appearing rude, it is better to be safe than sorry."

She added: "We would also like to urge people to speak to their friends and family members about these types of cases, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable - we want to protect as many people as possible."

Our crime prevention advice includes:

- If you receive a call from anybody purporting to be from the police, bank, or any organisation you did not call, please take a telephone number and then put the phone down.

- Go and make a cup of tea or do something for five minutes (this stops any fraudster from keeping your phone line open) then call a trusted friend, relative or Wiltshire Police on 101 and tell them what has happened.

- Never transfer money or give the caller access to your banking details or cards. The bank or police would never ask you to do this.

Further details about courier fraud can be found on the Action Fraud website www.actionfraud.police.uk

Dont Give A Fraudster A Christmas Treat

It's no surprise that the lead-up to Christmas - including Black Friday - is the busiest time of the year for online shopping.

But it's the busiest time for fraudsters too. Whether you're shopping for presents, buying seasonal treats or booking a break, they'll be trying to catch you out, well aware that you have a lot on your mind and are keen to bag a bargain.

So before you start your Christmas shopping in earnest, please take a few minutes to read some easy-to-follow tips to help you from giving a fraudster an early Christmas present.

Visit www.getsafeonline.org/safechristmasshopping for your top tips to enjoy a safe and happy online Christmas shopping experience.

Warning of Theft from Garages

We have been made aware of a significant number of garage break-ins resulting in the theft of bicycles and tools. Please see the following tips to help prevent thefts from garages:
- Register your valuable items such as bikes, electronics, tools etc. for free on www.Immobilise.com.unnamed2
- Take pictures of valuables and record their serial numbers and keep these safe. This information helps increase the chance of these items being returned to you if they are stolen.
- If possible, don’t store Christmas presents in the garage prior to the big day. Keep them inside the house but out of sight.
- Consider installing a Secured by Design approved anchor post inside the garage to which you can secure valuable items such as bikes.
- If your garage has an up and over door, consider installing an outer bracket and floor eyelet welded or bolted to the bottom of the door. This should be secured with a closed-shackle padlock. Alternatively if you access your garage via an internal door, you can drill a hole in the top channel above the wheels and insert a padlock into the hole.
- Never leave a garage or shed unlocked, especially if it has a connecting door to the house.
- Visibly and permanently mark property using a Secured by Design-approved forensic property-marking kit.
- Think of securing windows with grills or heavy wire mesh to increase window security and the use of net curtains to deter casual viewing of the inside of your garage.

Community Messaging

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Have you signed up to Community Messaging?

Wiltshire Police use an email alert system called Community Messaging, also known as Neighbourhood Alert, across Wiltshire and Swindon to provide real time information to subscribing residents and businesses.

This is a free service and once subscribed you can choose what sort of alert to receive and how to receive them. This way the alerts will be tailored specifically to your interests and delivered by email, text or phone.

Read more: Community Messaging