Priti Patel warns criminals seeking to exploit COVID-19 crisis

London, April 26 (IANS) UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has warned criminals seeking to “exploit and capitalise” on the coronavirus crisis, adding that “we are on to you”.
In a Downing Street briefing on Saturday, the Home Secretary said that although there had been a drop in overall crime, “these unprecedented times” had given rise to an increase in more “sophisticated” offending, the Metro newspaper reported.
Losses from COVID-19 related scams, such as phishing emails from fraudsters posing as genuine organisations to plunder sensitive information or websites selling bogus PPE, now stands at 2.4 million pounds.
However, Patel said that law enforcement “is also adapting and they are onto you… Their efforts are paying off”.
Patel said Border Force officers, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police had all been working to smash international drug rings, bring child sex predators to justice and thwart motorists seeking to take advantage of empty stretches of highway.
She revealed 1 million pounds worth of cocaine hidden in boxes of face masks set to be smuggled into the UK through the Channel Tunnel was discovered last week.
The NCA also helped seize 700 kg worth of heroin in Pakistan which was “potentially bound for the UK”.
It has also been working to shut down websites seeking to rip-off customers by offering fake personal protective equipment, said the Metro newspaper report.
The police have also been alerted to a staggering 1,300 “potential child sexual abuse cases” during the pandemic.
“This is a sickening reminder of the frightening activity that is targeted towards our children every single day,” Patel was quoted as saying in the newspaper report.

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