Coronavirus: Scammers 'posing as Red Cross collectors' condemned by police ahead of lockdown

Police say no Red Cross collectors are currently out.
Police say no Red Cross collectors are currently out. Photo credit: Getty.

Scammers were already hitting the streets ahead of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

New Zealand moved to alert level 4 on Wednesday night, meaning non-essential businesses must be shut, people must stay indoors and travel is severely limited. There will be an increased police presence in the community to educate people about the new rules as well as to disrupt any gatherings taking place. Officers will also be on the lookout for anyone trying to take advantage of the lockdown for looting.

According to the Southern District Police, people were already being opportunistic before the lockdown came into force.

In a post on their Facebook page, police said: "Unfortunately police have been advised that some members of our community are posing as Red Cross collectors."

"Red Cross can confirm there are NO collectors out and about during our state of emergency.

"Please keep yourselves safe and report any suspicious behaviour to police."

Many in the comment section were appalled. 

"That is disgusting. Makes me feel sick with everything going on that these types of crap think it is ok to target the already vulnerable in testing times for everyone," said one person.

"Stay isolated simple, don’t open the DOOR," said another.

"Always opportunists out there," added a third.

On top of telling people to keep their distance and to stay at home, authorities are warning people to also be vigilant online and not fall for any cyber scams. The World Health Organization sent a similar message to followers as more people donate to the group during the pandemic.

"Criminals are disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information.  If you are contacted by a person or organization that appears to be from WHO, verify their authenticity before responding."

There are 205 confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 in New Zealand. The nationwide lockdown will last at least four weeks.