Caribinieri police in Lombardy, the region worst affected by the Italian coronavirus outbreak, warned on Tuesday that people knocking on doors claiming they need to carry out coronavirus checks are “not health workers but fraudsters”.
#Coronavirusitalia: persone che bussano alla porta dicendo di dover effettuare tamponi per verificare eventuale contagio dal virus, non sono operatori sanitari ma truffatori. Contattateci sempre in questi casi.
— Arma dei Carabinieri (@_Carabinieri_) February 25, 2020
There have been numerous reports in the region this week of people posing as volunteers from the Red Cross or claiming to be paramedics or other medical personnel in order to steal valuables from elderly or vulnerable people in their homes, police said.
Thefts were reported in Milan and surrounding areas as well as in the Bergamo area.
Lombardy's welfare councillor Giulio Gallera said fake Red Cross personnel had also been knocking on doors in the “red zone”; the small towns in northern Italy which have been badly hit by the virus and are currently sealed off.
“There are no Red Cross volunteers or any others who have been dispatched for such screenings”, Gallera said at a press briefing on Monday, urging residents “not to let anyone in” unless they had called for medical assistance.
The scammers are taking advantage of public fears over the coronavirus outbreak, authorities said.
Anyone visited by people claiming they need to conduct tests for coronavirus is urged to contact their local Caribinieri office or call the emergency number 112.