Criminals are using coronavirus as a guise to gain entry to homes and steal valuables, Scotland Yard has warned.

The Met is calling for people to stay vigilant of scams perpetrated by criminals looking to cash in on people’s Covid-19 fears.

Residents worried about the coronavirus fraud have also been duped by scammers posing as online retailers of protective masks.

The force is investigating multiple reports of online shopping scams where members of the public have ordered and paid for personal protective equipment, which has then never arrived.

Superintendent Lis Chapple, the Met’s lead for crime prevention, inclusion and engagement, said: “We are seeing communities across London rallying together to help each other through this unprecedented public health crisis, and what is a difficult time for many. However, there are a small number of unscrupulous people out there who see it as an opportunity to con others for personal gain.

"The most vulnerable in society are often targeted which makes the offending all the more despicable, and the Met is committed to identifying these people and ensuring they are held to account for their actions.

"Please take a moment to think about who you are speaking to, what you are agreeing to and what you may be clicking on online. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Official advice is as follows:

. If you get an unsolicited home visit from anyone offering a service and asking for payment or to be let into your home, our advice is to immediately request and check their ID and credentials carefully.

. If you are not convinced or you still have suspicions, shut the door and report the matter to police by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.

. If you are contacted by someone you don’t know, online or in person, and are being pressured to buy something you feel unsure about, take a moment to assess the situation and talk to someone you trust before committing.

There have also been reports of coronavirus-themed phishing emails, attempting to trick members of the public into opening attachments which could enable fraudsters to steal personal information, passwords and banking details.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.