Scammers Use Coronavirus to Defraud People

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) — South Africa’s central bank has warned citizens against scammers visiting homes to “recall” banknotes and coins they said were contaminated with the novel coronavirus.

The criminals carried fake identification badges and provided false receipts to victims, who were told they could exchange the slips for “clean” cash at any bank.

The bank said in a statement Monday that it had “neither withdrawn any banknotes or coins nor issued any instruction to hand in banknotes or coins that may be contaminated.”

“There currently is no evidence that the Covid-19 virus is transmitted through the use of banknotes and coins,” the bank said.

South Africa has recorded 62 cases, the second-highest number of coronavirus infections in Africa after Egypt.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closing of schools and banned public gatherings after numbers more than tripled over the weekend.

Foreign nationals from highly affected countries will be denied entry from Wednesday, as the majority of South Africa’s cases had recently traveled abroad.

Tricksters took advantage of nervous citizens Monday, as many people remained home or rushed to supermarkets to stock up on groceries.

South Africa’s biggest private healthcare provider Netcare warned that thieves, masquerading as doctors screening for coronavirus, were going round trying to gain access into people’s homes.

“Criminals are going to homes in various areas claiming to be from Netcare … with door-to-door screening for Covid-19,” the Netcare group said in a statement.

“Please note that staff … are not doing door-to-door Covid-19 screening.”

© Agence France-Presse

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