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Police issue warning over coronavirus-related pranks and scams

West Mercia Police have warned residents that it will deal severely with those taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of scams and pranks related to Covid-19 has risen sharply in the last few weeks as the virus continues to spread across the country.

Late last week, a West Mercia officer was spat at by a man claiming to have coronavirus in what is becoming a growing problem for the police throughout the UK.

Speaking about the incident, West Mercia's head of local policing, Chief Superintendent Tom Harding, said such behaviour won't be tolerated.

"Clearly that's incredibly distressing for that officer," he said. "I certainly hope that the criminal justice system will deal with that as robustly as possible. We will certainly invest the time in investigating that to ensure we put the best case forward."

The Government has warned that if anyone were to deliberately infect anyone else with the virus, or if they were to cause harm or distress to someone by claiming they have the virus and deliberately spitting or coughing at someone, they would be prosecuted using common assault laws.

Meanwhile, police have also warned on the latest scam targeting people locally.

Reports have been received about people receiving text messages claiming people have been fined for leaving their house "more than once" during the coronavirus lockdown - a reference to the Prime Minister's instruction that people shouldn't leave their homes more than once per day for exercise.

The text claims to have been sent by the Government and accuses the recipient of "irresponsible behaviour".

Detectives say anyone who received the message - or anyone who is targeted by scams - should report them to Action Fraud UK.

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