A man pretending to be a health care worker tricked a 92-year-old woman in London into paying 160 British pounds (around $217) for a fake COVID-19 vaccine, police said.
The man “jabbed” the victim in her arm with a “dart-like implement” after visiting her home in the Surbiton neighborhood of the English capital on Dec. 30, London police said in a statement on Friday.
The suspect, pictured below, then collected cash — which he falsely claimed would be reimbursed via the United Kingdom’s National Health Service — and later returned to the woman’s home on Monday to ask for a further payment of 100 pounds, around $135.
He remains at large. Police asked for help in identifying him.
The woman, whose name was withheld by police, was “checked over at her local hospital and has suffered no ill effects following this encounter,” police said. It was unclear whether she was injected with anything.
Detective Inspector Kevin Ives described the incident as “a disgusting and totally unacceptable assault on a member of the public which won’t be tolerated.”
“It is crucial we catch him as soon as possible as not only is he defrauding individuals of money, he may endanger people’s lives,” Ives added.
In the U.S., Steven Merrill, the FBI’s financial crime section chief, warned this week of multiple coronavirus scams that fraudsters have cooked up.
“We’ve been concerned about fraud schemes regarding the vaccine as soon as the vaccine went from an idea to reality,” Merrill told USA Today. “The one thing that we’ve learned throughout this pandemic is that when there’s money to be made, criminals will figure out how to do it.”
The FBI warns people on its website to watch out for people requesting money for the vaccine, early access to the shot or participation in medical trials.
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