Police in London are searching for a conman who administered a fake Covid-19 vaccine to a 92-year-old woman in exchange for payment.
The man apparently passed himself off as a National Health Service (NHS) worker and convinced the victim to pay £160 (AUD280) after she received what she thought was a vaccination.
She was apparently given a jab in the arm with a ‘dart-like implement’ by the man, who police believe is in his late ‘30s. He then returned again a few days later and demanded an additional £100 (AUD175).
Conman may endanger people’s lives
According to Detective Inspector Kevin Ives of the City of London Police, investigators are appealing for help to identify the man because he may endanger people’s lives.
“It is not yet known what substance, if any, was administered to the victim, but she was checked over at her local hospital and has suffered no ill-effects following this encounter,” police said in a statement,” Ives said.
Criminal gangs want to capitalise
European police and health officials warned in December that criminals will try to sell unregulated Covid-19 treatments as governments start vaccinating citizens against the coronavirus.
“As the vaccine is now becoming available, the large demand will trigger different criminal activities,” a spokesperson for Europol, the Europe-wide police agency, said.
This includes circulation of falsified vaccines on illicit markets or their introduction into the legal market, trafficking of fake or substandard vaccines that have fallen out of the cold chain, and the theft of medical cargo and even medical waste such as empty vials, which are then repackaged with the false vaccine.
Demand will attract organised crime
“Fraudulent pharmaceutical products advertised as allegedly treating or preventing Covid-19 are already on sale, both offline and online,” Europol said.
“For example, criminals may resort to illegally refilling empty vials. Therefore, procedures for the correct disposal of vials by grinding or incineration will have to be properly enforced.”